Dec 292017

It’s always nice to see examples where careful research challenges popular dogma, so in that spirit I flag an article about measurement of rates at which uninsured people use emergency rooms (first noticed in a Washington Post article about same.)

Healthcare insurance is of course not squarely in our software/cyber wheelhouse, but the skeptical “show me” temperaments illustrated here surely are. Many very expensive policy decisions have been sold to the public on the premise that uninsured people rely on emergency room visits in place of regular health care offerings, with a consequent increase in costs and clogging of the facilities. The authors (who publish their work in the above Maryland-based journal) study the question and report the ER visit rates of insured and uninsured people are comparable.

The threat to validity of old lore might be one of perception, they say; uninsured people are not as commonly seen in the waiting rooms of non-emergency offices, so their appearance in emergency rooms is noticed more. In other words, it wasn’t that uninsured people used the ER more so than insured people so much as they used regular facilities so much less. (To which we would say: “Duh.”)

The cited paper has more nuggets regarding linkages between costs and quality of care, and we commend to you a reading of the full paper – just as we commend a willingness to question, not just accept assertions that “sound right.” Especially if assertions are made to you from people who have a business interest in willing them to be true.

 Posted by at 9:35 am on December 29, 2017