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Friday, 22nd August 2008

Medi-Cal Patients Are Heaviest Users of Emergency Departments — Majority of Visits May Be Avoidable

Medi-Cal Patients Are Heaviest Users of Emergency Departments — Majority of Visits May Be Avoidable
Source: Public Policy Institute of California

Medi-Cal patients are more likely than uninsured or privately insured Californians to visit hospital emergency departments for conditions that could be treated in a clinic or doctor’s office. Overall, four in 10 visits to the state’s hospital emergency departments are potentially avoidable. A report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) also finds that immigrants are not crowding the state’s emergency rooms – in fact, foreign-born Californians who are not U.S. citizens are among the least likely to seek treatment in the ER.

At a time when state and national policymakers are focusing on health care, the PPIC study focuses on a key part of the system. Many California hospitals have closed in the last decade, leaving the remaining emergency departments to treat more patients. The consequences can be life threatening. Emergency departments are the health care safety net for all Californians: They are open 24 hours a day, they are the only guaranteed source of care for the uninsured, and they play a critical role in disaster response.

Emergency departments throughout the state, particularly in Los Angeles County and the Central Valley, struggle with crowded conditions. Large public hospitals and those in poor communities that serve large Medi-Cal populations are most strained.

+ Emergency Department Care in California: Who Uses It and Why? (PDF; 1.3 MB)
+ Technical Appendix (PDF; 201 KB)


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