Under the terms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, state Medicaid programs would’ve been required to expand their Medicaid eligibility criteria beginning in 2014. After the Supreme Court ruled that the law’s Medicaid provisions were unconstitutional, the ruling effectively allows states to choose if they would expand their Medicaid coverage. Some opponents of the Medicaid expansion claim that providing expanded coverage and including more people in the Medicaid program will only clog hospital emergency rooms and lead to a less effective healthcare system. However, a new study shows that most Medicaid recipients do not visit hospital emergency rooms for primary care reasons.
Earlier this month, the Center for Studying Health Systems, a nonpartisan health care research group, released a study that showed about one in 10 Medicaid patients visit hospital emergency rooms for noncritical care purposes each year. This is only slightly higher than the one out of 14 people with private healthcare insurance who also use emergency rooms for primary care.
Researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for Health Statistics for 20008. The study showed that about 46 of every 100 non-elderly people receiving Medicaid visited an emergency room in 2008. Medicaid currently covers about 58 million Americans, most of whom are elderly, children, and the impoverished.