Writes Dr. Mark Siegel in the NY Daily News:
A study just published in the prestigious journal Science reveals that new Medicaid patients in Oregon were 40% more likely to use the emergency room than the uninsured were. This finding is not a surprise to me or most physicians — we have known that truth for years.
But it does undermine one of the basic philosophical and practical underpinnings of Obamacare: the notion that expanding insurance will invariably unclog ERs, improve primary and preventive care, prevent diseases and lower costs.
The study underlines the findings of a prior survey by the PricewaterhouseCoopers consulting firm that indicated that Medicaid patients are 35% more likely to use the ER unnecessarily than are the uninsured.
The reason for ER overuse is simple: Medicaid patients (like all insured patients) feel that their insurance card entitles them to health care anytime they want it. When office doctors aren’t available to provide it, they go to the hospital to get it.
Read the rest of How Obamacare will hurt doctors.