Emergency Room Visits Increase at Double the Rate of US Population Growth

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that emergency room visits increased at a rate double that of the growth rate of the American population between 1997 and 2007.  The study found that Medicaid patients made up a large portion of the emergency room visits.

The number of Medicaid patients using emergency rooms as doctors is important keep in mind in light of the current economic situation the country finds itself in.  It is thought that one of the main reasons the number of Medicaid patients visiting the emergency room is so high is because of the low payments many state’s Medicaid benefits provide to doctors.  The low pay often means that doctors will only accept a certain number of Medicaid patients.  When turned away for simple illnesses, many Medicaid patients often wait until symptoms worsen, and then have no choice but the go the emergency room.  As the loss of jobs continues to mount across the nation, more workers and families are depending on Medicaid as their insurance.

Health care officials have made it clear that something must be done, especially at a time when the country is intent on reforming health care laws.  Officials say that compensation to doctors and emergency rooms must be fair, or patients and their care will be the things that suffer most.

Adding to the problem is the fact that over the ten-year period studied the number of emergency rooms has decreased.  Fewer emergency rooms and nearly double the expected amount of visits have put a strain on the emergency care services.  Officials warn that if something is not done about the situation soon, there may be devastating implications as the number of emergency room visits is expected to continue rising due to the recession and other recent health care developments.

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