Friday, January 03, 2014

Study Finds Increased Oregon Medicaid Coverage Ups Emergency Room Visits 40%; No Significant Health Improvement

A team including MIT, Harvard and Columbia researchers has found that emergency room visits increase substantially when health care expands. The Oregonian's Nick Budnick explains:
"Researchers poring through hospital administrative records found that expansion of the Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan in 2008 led to a 40 percent increase in emergency department usage by people in the 15 months after they enrolled, according to a study released Thursday in the journal Science.

"The findings 'explode the myth that health insurance access will reduce the strain on emergency services' said an editorial accompanying the study."
[empasis added]
Expanding medical care coverage doesn't cut down on emergency room visits for conditions easily treatable in normal doctor/health care visits. The study found emergency room visit increases even "for conditions that may be most readily treatable in primary care settings."

Even more surprisingly, expanding medical care coverage does not significantly improve health of the individuals covered.
"Oregon is again starring in the debate over national health care reform after a study tracking 12,000 low-income Oregonians between 2008 and 2010 found that newly enrolled Oregon Health Plan members showed no significant physical health benefit."
Those covered did not show significant improvement over those without health care coverage in terms of "blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Studies show those measures can change quickly under treatment, [Harvard School of Public Health professor Katherine Baicker] said."

Still, health care costs rose 35%. "People enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan used health care more, leading to an increase of $1,172 in per-patient costs, or 35 percent."

The only upsides were:
"Those with coverage spent less out-of-pocket on their health.

"Only about 21 percent of the group with coverage reported depression, compared to 30 percent with depression in the group that was denied Oregon Health Plan coverage."
[emphasis added]
So, expect costs and emergency room visits to explode under Obamacare, with little improvement in health. And one might find that depression actually increases significantly under Obamacare especially for those with significant health problems who used to have health care plans they liked.


MAX Redline said...

But wait - Obamacare was going to cut emergency room visits, and save everybody $2500 a year in medical costs. What the...why, who could've seen this coming? My gosh, this is amazing. But hey. Look at all the folks who now have health insurance!

T. D. said...

One of my friends who worked in ER before retiring, was so hoping that ER visits would go down and save the hospital all the extra costs and need to raise private funds every year to pay for treatment of those who couldn't afford it.

However, why wouldn't visits go up? It's so much easier to get medical attention just by showing up rather than having to schedule an appointment.

And now with more demand on the same resources getting an appointment will be harder and the wait longer than ever.

But, hey, as you say, look at all those who now have health insurance. Oh, wait, haven't there been more policy cancellations than sign ups?