Romney Care was supposed to reduce emergency room visits, the opposite happened

Another health care myth bites the dust in Massachusetts.

Contrary to expectations that easier access to primary care would reduce ER use, the total number of ER visits at 11 hospitals increased slightly after reform was implemented -- a pattern similar to that seen in other states.

"There was perhaps a perception that if we could just get people insurance they won't need the ER anymore," said Dr. Peter Smulowitz, the study's lead author from Harvard Medical School in Boston. But, "you cannot ever redirect every visitor, perhaps even the majority of visitors, away from the ER," he told Reuters Health.

Estimates have shown that the state's reform was successful in cutting its number of uninsured people by about three quarters.

Supporters of the reforms hoped that insurance would allow people to see a primary care doctor before health problems get serious enough to warrant an ER trip, with the added bonus of easing pressure on crowded emergency departments.

To assume that insuring more people will drastically cut down on the need for emergency care "is a dangerous policy choice," Smulowitz said, partly because there are many different factors that influence statewide use of ERs. . . .



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