Emergency Medicaid Factors Analyzed in North Carolina

Childbirth and pregnancy complications seen as accounting for majority of expenditures

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- In North Carolina, a state with a high influx of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America, Emergency Medicaid expenditures are increasing and nearly 100 percent of them go toward the care of patients who are not American citizens or legal residents, according to a study published in the March 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

C. Annette DuBard, M.D., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed 2001-2004 data on 48,391 North Carolina residents who received Emergency Medicaid coverage.

The researchers found that Emergency Medicaid expenditures increased 28 percent between 2001 and 2004, and that 99 percent of recipients were not American citizens or legal residents. They also found that nearly all of the patients were Hispanic (93 percent), female (95 percent) adults aged 18 to 40 (89 percent). Although childbirth and pregnancy complications accounted for 82 percent of 2004 expenditures, the authors note that elderly and disabled patients are responsible for an increasing share of expenditures.

"Increased access to comprehensive contraceptive and prenatal care, injury prevention initiatives, preventive care and chronic disease management may make better use of the public health care dollar by improving the health status of this population and alleviating demand for costly emergency care," the authors write.

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