ERs in Massachusetts

The Boston Globe reports that the use of hospital emergency rooms is soaring in Massachusetts:

The cost of caring for ER patients has soared 17 percent over two years, despite efforts to direct patients with non-urgent problems to primary care doctors instead, according to new state data. [Nearly half of the 2.5 million ER visits in 2007] didn't require immediate treatment, or could have been treated in a doctors' office.

Several physicians and policy makers said the state information, along with other new data from Harvard researchers, suggests that emergency room crowding and rising costs will not be solved by providing people with health insurance alone, despite optimistic talk by politicians who advocated for the law.

"Despite optimistic talk by politicians" could be the theme song for the next four years.

Comments (7)

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  1. Pam V. says:

    This is not surprising. Providing people with health insurance, especially an expansive public plan where little cost is borne by the insured, you are increasing demand for health care without doing a flip about the supply side.

  2. Ken says:

    I keep hearing that the Massachusetts plan is going to be the Obama plan.

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    I’m beginning to hear a few liberal policy wonks admit that access to insurance isn’t the same as access to care. Yet they never seem to offer up a viable solution.

    Massachusetts is the only state to claim near universal health coverage, due to its individual mandate. However, according to a recent survey of waiting times to see a physician, Boston came in last among the 15 metropolitan markets surveyed.

    The average wait to see an OB/GYN was 70 days; a family physician 63 days, a dermatologist 54 days; an orthopedic surgeon 40 days and a cardiologist 21 days.

  4. [...] in Boston are twice as long as they are in any other US city; and the number of people going to emergency rooms for nonemergency care is as high today as it was three years [...]

  5. [...] But waiting times to see a new doctor in Boston are twice as long as in any other U.S. city and the number of people seeking nonemergency care at hospital emergency rooms is as high today as [...]

  6. [...] But waiting times to see a new doctor in Boston are twice as long as in any other U.S. city and the number of people seeking nonemergency care at hospital emergency rooms is as high today as [...]

  7. [...] blog cover the wait for care under Massachusetts health care reform, the effect it is having on emergency room visits (they are up), and what is known of its ultimate effects on [...]