Is the ACA Keeping Patients Out of the Emergency Department?

January 21, 2015
Gale Scott

In this segment, the panelists discuss the ACA's effect on emergency care utilization among newly insured patients.

(Click the play button on the audio player above to listen to this segment of the ACA panel discussion)

This HCPLive audio panel discussion features:

  • Joel Zinberg MD, JD, Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City
  • David Sandman PhD, Senior Vice President of the New York State Health Foundation
  • Patrick Cronin, New Jersey organizing director for “Get Covered America” a nonprofit with a federal contract to help people sign up for coverage
  • Tom Wilson (moderator), a partner at Kaufman Zita Group and former chairman of the NJ Republican State Committee

The panelists look at how well the ACA is working and discuss whether it is politically vulnerable.

The hospital emergency department (ED) can be an expensive place to get primary care. One of the goals of the ACA has been to enable patients to find a family doctor and seek non-emergency care in an office or clinic setting.

Having health insurance should mean that patients have fewer emergencies because they get more preventive care—particularly patients with chronic illnesses. But even the ACA’s biggest fans concede that goal has not yet been met.

Patients are taking their new insurance to the ED. “Old habits die hard,” says Sandman. And Zinberg points out that in Massachusetts, which has had statewide universal coverage since 2006, patients there still seek too much ED care. “It’s not clear that will change,” Zinberg said.

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