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Adult Emergency Department Visits Up in California '05 to '10

Biggest increases for Medicaid patients compared to those with private insurance, uninsured

TUESDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For adults in California, visit rates to the emergency department increased from 2005 to 2010, particularly among Medicaid beneficiaries, according to a research letter published in the Sept. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Renee Y. Hsia, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues examined recent trends in the association between insurance coverage and emergency department use in California for adults (aged 19 to 64 years) from 2005 to 2010. Data were collected from the non-public versions of the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development's Emergency Discharge Data and Patient Discharge Data.

The researchers found that from 2005 to 2010 there was a 13.2 percent increase in the number of visits to California emergency departments, from 5.4 to 6.1 million per year. The largest increase in visits was seen in 2009. From 2005 to 2010 there were increases in the share of total visits attributable to adults with Medicaid coverage and for uninsured adults, and a decrease in the share attributable to adults with private insurance. From 2005 to 2010 there was an 8.3 percent increase in the total visits per 1,000 adults living in California, with significantly higher increases among Medicaid beneficiaries (13.9 percent) versus privately insured or uninsured. Medicaid patients had consistently higher rates of visits for ambulatory care sensitive conditions compared with privately insured or uninsured (54.76 versus 10.93 and 16.60 per 1,000 population patients, respectively).

"Visit rates to the emergency department by adults younger than 65 years increased in California from 2005 to 2010, particularly among Medicaid patients," the authors write.

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