NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 16, 2004

Emergency rooms are not being overwhelmed with poor and uninsured Americans, according to a new study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Researchers analyzed and interviewed nearly 50,000 adults visiting emergency departments in 2000 and 2001. They found:

  • More than 83 percent of emergency department visits were made by people who had a regular doctor or clinic, or were members of an HMO.
  • Additionally, 85 percent had medical insurance and 79 percent had incomes above the poverty level.

The researchers also discovered that the uninsured are no more likely to use an emergency room:

  • People without health insurance were no more likely to have had an emergency visit than those with private health insurance.
  • People without a regular doctor or clinic were 25 percent less likely to have had an emergency visit than those with a private doctor.

Source: Maggie Fox, "Poor, Uninsured Don't Fill Emergency Rooms -- Study," Reuters, October 19, 2004; based upon: Michael L. Callaham, David C. Colby, Kelly A. Hunt, Jonathan A. Showstack, Ellen J. Weber, "Does lack of a usual source of care or health insurance increase the likelihood of an emergency department visit? Results of a national population-based study," Annals of Emergency Medicine, 2004.


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