Dan Munro posted an interesting chart from Gallup that shows the percentage of uninsured in the US since 2008:
The chart clearly shows a drop in those that are uninsured. I think we can quite confidently say that this is the result of Obamacare where many uninsured Americans could get free health insurance. While many are proclaiming this data illustrates that this means that Obamacare is a success, I think the jury is still out.
In fact, this reminds me of those who consider the EHR incentive money and meaningful use a success because EHR adoption has increased. This might be true, but it might also be true that the wrong EHRs were adopted and so we wasted a lot of money encouraging the adoption of the wrong EHR. That’s just one example. It’s good that there’s been a change, but change does not always mean that we changed for the better.
Going back to the rise of the insured population in the US, I wonder if those newly insured have stopped going to the ED. That was one of the arguments that were made by proponents of ACA. Basically, the uninsured knew they could go to the ED anytime they wanted and not be turned away. Now that many of those people have health insurance, are they now going to a doctor’s office instead of the ED?
I haven’t seen any numbers that indicate this is the case. Plus, I fear that those who do switch from the ED to the doctors office will learn about deductibles and head right back to the ED.
If you have data on this trend, I’d love to see it. No doubt how this goes will have a tremendous impact on the bottom line of hospitals.