Saturday, May 28, 2005
A statement released by the Center for Disease Control reports that visits to emergency deparments reached a record high of almost 144 million in 2002 even though the number of emergency departments have decreased by 14 percent from 1993 to 2003. Linda Craig of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics explains that "emergency departments are a safety net and often the place of first resort for health care for America's poor and uninsured". The 2003 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Emergency Department Survey released by the CDC attributes the rise in the number of visits primarily to the increased visits by adults, especially those over the age of 66 years. The report found that Medicaid patients were four times more likely to go to an emergency room that those with private insurance. Visit rates for people between the ages of 65-74 were five times higher for those residing in a nursing home or institution than those who were not. The average waiting time to see a physician, however, did not increase from 2000. An article for MSNBC cites a U.S. Census Bureau statistic that estimates that 45 million people or 15.6 percent of Americans did not have any health insurance in 2003.
Thanks to research assistant Lindley Bain for help with this post. [tm]