I’ve become a devotee of NPR’s Planet Money npr.org/money – which starts each podcast off with a number – and then dissects the implications of that number. I think that’s a great idea – so today, I’ll inaugurate beginning each post with a relevant statistic.
That’s how much emergency department use in
has risen over the past 4 years. The Division of Health Care Policy and Finance released this report at the end of June, and the Boston Globe reported the results on July 4. The total number of ED visits in the Commonwealth went up to almost 3 million. Massachusetts
Emergency Department Visits in Massachusetts, 2004-2008
As Nancy Turnbull pointed out in the Globe, the rate of health insurance among
residents has been high for some time. Therefore, the percentage of those going to the ED who were uninsured was low even before we passed health care reform – so any change in the number of uninsured was not likely to have a big impact on ED utilization. ED utilization was increasing before health care reform, and the increase has continued unabated since we passed health care reform. Massachusetts
The real problem is that there is a lack of access to less-expensive alternatives to the emergency department. Many
Health care reform has improved access to health insurance in