Newly Insured Patient Use of ER Studied

New data is coming in on how providing insurance to previously uninsured Americans may affect their health related behavior. With the new data, are debates about the costs and benefits of providing healthcare, and the potential for overuse of healthcare resources, particularly Emergency Room services (ER).

However, according to Charu Raheja, PhD, CEO of TriageLogic, and author of a recent study on patient ER usage, “We need to take a broader look at the decision making process of patients in order to evaluate their usage of emergency care. One of the additional factors that needs to be considered is the patients’ understanding of the appropriate level of care for their symptoms.”

Dr. Raheja conducted a study comparing patients’ response about the level of care they thought they required versus the level of care a trained nurse triage instructed the patient to get. Using standardized medical protocols, about 70% of the patients who thought that they needed to go to the ER were instructed to a lower level of care. Overall, government insured patients were more likely to make an incorrect decision about their required level of care without assistance from a medical professional.