Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Uninsured patients cost ERs billions

From the Columbus (OH) Dispatch:

Nonemergency care in ERs will cost about $18 billion this year, according to a recent study by the National Association of Community Health Centers. In Ohio, it will cost nearly $1 billion.

Why? Because many of these patients who use emergency rooms for minor issues are uninsured. In Ohio, about 1 million people lack health insurance.

"In the last several years, the uninsured rate has skyrocketed, so the emergency rooms are the only place left for people," said Shawn Frick, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers.

The national study used 2004 data and based the cost on the industry belief that 35 percent of emergency-room visits are avoidable. The group multiplied that number by the average cost of an ER visit by region, subtracted the average cost of a health center visit and used 2006 dollars to get $18 billion.


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