recently publicized findings from a study conducted here in oregon seems at first glance seems to fail expectations for expanded health care coverage. the study, published in the journal science, shows that medicaid coverage extended to thousands of low income oregon residents by lottery did not lower the frequency of visits to the emergency room. on the contrary, the study found that e.r. visits by those newly covered individuals increased 40% over those without insurance. "The pattern was so strong that it held true across most demographic groups, times of day and types of visits, including those for conditions that were treatable in primary care settings."
this study may indicate the possibility of an increased demand on emergency rooms as more affordable insurance is extended to 25 million uninsured americans through obamacare. in my opinion, this study also implies more encouraging trends. to me, the results imply that people with insurance are more likely to seek and pay of care, even the expense of an emergency room visit, than to allow any ailment to continue without care or to wait until a condition becomes an emergency. professor rosenbaum, a health researcher at george washington university, "pointed out that a lot of the recent growth in emergency department use has been among the privately insured people, not the uninsured. She said insurers often recommend going to the emergency room for quick specialty care, like for stomach pain." though another doctor commenting on the study said that many of the participants in the oregon study had a primary care physician already, heidi allen, an assistant professor involved in the study, noted that many of the non-urgent e.r. visits resulted from the inability of a patient to secure a same-day appointment with their doctor.
the object of preventative care will be to encourage long term health and health consciousness. this longer trajectory for personal health in tandem with greater affordability of health care in general would stem emergency room visits. however, the newly insured, perhaps unfamiliar with the methods and means of modern health care access, may continue (perhaps necessarily) to make visits to the emergency room. over a generation of increased access to affordable health care, the united states will see a significant change to the demands of providing health care and the cost of that care. short term studies at the beginning of a long-term transformative process should not be discouraging.