News Headlines Article

There’s not a crisis of uninsured people overusing the emergency room

If you haven’t noticed, I love some good new research that challenges the conventional wisdom. We’ve got a live one today.

You hear it everywhere you go, from true experts to lawmakers to the average Joe or Joan on the street: The uninsured just go to the emergency room when they need medical care, and that’s one thing that keeps driving up our health care costs.

But a new paper at Health Affairs, authored by researchers from Harvard, the University of Illinois, and MIT, challenges that assumption.

They actually found that uninsured adults go to the emergency room about as much as people with private insurance (12.2 percent of the uninsured made an ER visit in 2013 compared to 11.1 percent of the privately insured) and much less than the people on Medicaid (29.3 percent).