RESEARCH TO POLICY: HEALTHCARE
Study: Having Medicaid increases emergency room visits
Unique study on Oregon’s citizens sheds light on critical care in the U.S.
“Although one always needs to be careful generalizing to other settings,” said MIT economist Amy Finkelstein, “these results suggest that other Medicaid expansions are unlikely to decrease emergency room use.”
Adults who are covered by Medicaid use emergency rooms 40 percent more than those in similar circumstances who do not have health insurance, according to a unique new study, co-authored by an MIT economist, that sheds empirical light on the inner workings of health care in the U.S.
The study takes advantage of Oregon’s recent use of a lottery to assign access to Medicaid, the government-backed health-care plan for low-income Americans, to certain uninsured adults. The research examines emergency room records for roughly 25,000 people over 18 months.
“When you cover the uninsured, emergency room use goes up by a large magnitude,” says Amy Finkelstein, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and a principal investigator of the study, along with Katherine Baicker, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.