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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Patient motivators for emergency department utilization: A pilot cross-sectional survey of uninsured admitted patients at a university teaching hospital

  • Author(s): Lozano, K
  • Ogbu, UC
  • Amin, A
  • Chakravarthy, B
  • Anderson, CL
  • Lotfipour, S
  • et al.

© 2015 Elsevier Inc. Background During the past several decades, emergency department (ED) increasing volume has proven to be a difficult challenge to address. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, there is much speculation on the impact that health care coverage expansion will have on ED usage across the country. It is currently unclear what the effects of Medicaid expansion and a decreased number of uninsured patients will have on ED usage. Objective We sought to identify the motivators behind ED use in patients who were admitted to a university teaching hospital in order to project the possible impact of health care reform on ED utilization. Methods We surveyed a convenience sample of uninsured patients who presented to the ED and were subsequently admitted to the inpatient setting. Results Our respondents sought care in the ED primarily because they perceived their condition to be a medical emergency. Their lack of insurance and associated costs of care resulted in delays in seeking care, in reduced access, and a limited ability to manage chronic health conditions. Thus, contributing to their admission. Conclusions Affordability will reduce financial barriers to health care insurance coverage. However, efficient and timely access to primary care is a stronger determinant of ED usage in our sample. Health insurance coverage does not guarantee improved health care access. Patients may continue to experience significant challenges in managing chronic health conditions.

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