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EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS: Do uninsured adults who become eligible for Medicaid increase ED use?

In 2008, the state of Oregon expanded its Medicaid program by allowing a limited number of uninsured adults to enter a lottery to determine eligibility status.  This study of lottery participants over an 18-month period after the lottery allowed a comparison of the emergency department use of those with newly-acquired Medicaid benefits compared to those who remained uninsured.  The Medicaid coverage was associated with a 40 percent increase in emergency department use.

This study was described in a news story in the Portland Business Journal, which adds interesting insight based on more current data on emergency department use that has been released by the state.  These data are based on people who are enrolled in the state’s Coordinated Care Organizations–and show a decline in ED visits for these Medicaid recipients.


Taubman, S.L., Allen, H.L., and others.  Medicaid increases emergency-department use: evidence from Oregon’s health insurance experiment.  Science, Jan. 2, 2014.  Click here for access to publisher’s website where you can buy a copy of the full study: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/01/02/science.1246183.abstract?sid=390b14c0-d76f-49b1-97eb-9633dd320f64

Hayes, E.  Does Medicaid lead to lower or higher ER usage? Conflicting evidence.  Portland Business Journal, Jan. 3, 2014.  Click here for full text: http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/health-care-inc/2014/01/does-medicaid-lead-to-lower-or-higher.html?s=print  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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