Medi-Cal Patients Flocking To ERs More Than Before ACA

From California Healthline (hat tip: Dr. Menadue):

The architects and proponents of Obamacare had argued that once people got health coverage they would stop going to the ER so much, because they could visit primary care doctors instead. But in reality, people who were uninsured before the ACA were actually reluctant to go to the ER unless they were “about to die,” because they would be saddled with big bills, said state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a pediatrician. Under Medi-Cal, though, patients aren’t worried about those expenses.

And old habits die hard: A newly-insured patient accustomed to visiting the ER for treatment might not immediately switch to a primary care doctor who is, “just a name — not somebody you know,” Pan added.

Still, experts believe fewer Medi-Cal patients would be visiting the ER if there were more doctors willing to treat them.

Though “we have seen a very strong increase in the number of Medi-Cal patients … the number of doctors willing to see Medi-Cal patients has not increased accordingly,” said Jan Emerson-Shea, vice president of external affairs for the California Hospital Association.

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