Expanding Medicaid Led to More ER Visits
Harvard research debunks ObamaCare talking point
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jan 3, 2014 7:17 AM CST

(Newser) – One of the favorite arguments of Affordable Care Act supporters has long been that the newly-insured poor will use primary care doctors more and expensive emergency room services less, saving the government money. But a new Harvard study totally contradicts that claim. Researchers looked at Oregon's partial 2008 Medicaid expansion, and discovered that those who got coverage (via a lottery) used all health services more, emergency care decidedly included, the Washington Post reports. The covered visited the ER 1.43 times over the study's period, compared to 1.02 times for those who entered the lottery but didn't get coverage; that's a 40% bump.

They even visited more often for conditions that could have been treated by their primary care physician. The Obama administration tells the New York Times that the study's 18-month time frame was too short, citing a years-long Massachusetts study that registered an 8% decrease in ER visits. But one MIT health economist not involved with the study says it fits into "a broader set of evidence that covering people with health insurance doesn't save money." Which is fine. "The law isn't designed to save money. It's designed to improve health."

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Showing 3 of 73 comments
wartengu
Jan 4, 2014 12:52 PM CST
I stopped listening to bogus Harvard studies years ago. Harvard is nothing more than a breeding ground for greed, power and lies.
sunniladi
Jan 4, 2014 9:43 AM CST
these people who rush off to the ER for non-emergency care will need to be educated. the HMO i've had for a decade forbids it unless you have a life-threatening condition, such as heart attack, stroke, bleeding, etc. we are also instructed to call the 24/7 nurse line if we're unsure if our particular malady qualifies to be seen by an urgent care facility doctor. if you fail to use proper procedures you will not be covered. that's the way it should be for everyone.
jimpeel
Jan 4, 2014 1:44 AM CST
If it is free, why not have steak instead of hamburger? "My poor Johnny's fever is 101. Let's go to the ER. It's free." Free to whom?