Americans expect busier emergency rooms in 2014

Posted Jan 2, 2014 by Dan Arel
A new study in the journal Science has the U.S. worried about the effects on an increase in emergency room visits due to the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.
Doctor Examines Patient
Doctor Examines Patient
National Cancer Institute
The study, that looks at the smaller experiment done in Oregon that states that poor people who had previously been uninsured are more likely to visit the emergency room than before, an average of 1.4 times per person.
While in some areas of the country this may be true, the study does not account for a few things. First, it ignores that Oregon is a small sample size of a specific area of the country. Secondly it ignores the benefits of this increase.
Before the benefits are looked at however, we must look at the negative affects. The researches have estimated that this increase will cost an extra $120 per person, and this would be paid for my Medicaid. Busier E.R.’s and an increase in health care costs look bad up front.
However, this study fails to look at those who will actually visit the E.R. less as the result of getting insurance will mean they are able to see a primary care doctor or visit the many clinics in most cities. There is no analysis on what sort of costs that will save programs like Medicaid.
This also does not look long term. When someone gets insurance for the first time, going to the emergency room to get better after years of having to either self medicate or live with an illness means over the long term, these people stand to be less sick and less contagious, helping those around them.
So while it is easy to see some issues such a crowded E.R.’s as a major downside to the Affordable Care Act, one of the bills actual goals is to prevent illness through preventative care. To start this, sick people will need to be better, so while they may begin flooding into the E.R. at first, it is too premature to simply assume this is a long-term problem or even a problem at all.
Both sides of the debate are quick to put a nail in the coffin of the Affordable Care Act or raise banners in victory, when in reality we have not seen any long-term studies or results to base any proper judgment on the implementation and cost analysis.