Oregon decided to expand its Medicaid in 2008, hoping that more people with low-income will go to primary care doctors instead of making ER visits. However, it seems that the authorities did not manage to make a change. According to a new study, most people still go to the ER, even though the visits to doctors’ offices have also increased.
A lot of people against this law said that the recent study is an evidence on how the Medicaid Expansion was a mistake. Oregon had some big issues eight years ago. They wanted to expand the program for every resident, but they did not have the money.
The study was made by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They discovered the Medicaid expansion was not able to change things in the way the authorities wanted. In 2008, the Oregon officials decided to expand by using a lottery. Those who were on the waiting list had the chance to get the health insurance. This random choice allowed the researchers to compare the people who got the Medicaid expansion with those who did not.
They discovered that those who won the Medicaid expansion visited the emergency more almost 65 percent more than those who did not have the opportunity. It seems that people who have health insurance are more likely to go the emergency room instead of going to a primary care doctor. The authorities should change Medicaid if they want fewer emergency room visits.
Experts are saying that the best way to change the situation would be to change the payment systems. At the moment, is easier for the patients to make ER visits. Ezekiel Emanuel, the health adviser to president Obama, gave the example of a program in Seattle, where home health care workers have more difficulties in using the emergency room.
Most people think that giving just the access to health insurance is not enough to make people visit less the emergency room. The practices need to be changed and the health officials should raise awareness why is more important to go to a primary care doctor. Even though the Medicaid expansion was supposed to bring some changes to the health system, it seems that it did not change in the way the authorities were expecting.
What do you think makes people to choose ER visits instead of a primary care doctor?
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