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Study: ER users most often insured and dealing with serious medical issuesPosted On Mon, March 22, 2010
A new study has found that the most common users of emergency departments are white, have health insurance, and are usually battling a serious illness, despite common public perceptions to the contrary.
The study, which was conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians after reviewing studies on "frequent flyers" - or those who often frequent emergency rooms for care are often not looking to bilk the system for free care.
Instead, those who needed care were properly insured and not coming in for trivial matters, but instead for serious matters that required attention.
With that in mind, the report casts doubt on the need for healthcare reform, saying that only 15 percent of frequent ER users were uninsured.
"Frequent emergency department users have been proposed as targets of healthcare reform, but the common assumptions that their visits are frivolous or due to lack of health insurance are not supported by data," said Dr. Eduardo LaCalle of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York "These patients, who represent 4.5 to 8 percent of all emergency patients but 21 to 28 percent of all visits, defy popular assumptions."
He added that the public health would benefit more from any health care reforms if more research was first conducted to better understand those who frequently find themselves in the ER.
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