A new study shows that Emergency Room visits in Illinois have climbed by over 5 percent since the Affordable Care Act launched three years ago. One of the study’s authors, Northwestern Professor Scott Dresden, says the higher number of ER visits points to both good and bad news.
The good news, said Dresden, is that “Patients that need healthcare are able to come to the Emergency room and get the healthcare they need, without fear of financial repercussions.”
The bad news? It’s possible that not enough doctors take Medicaid or the new Obamacare plans, leading to long wait times for doctor appointments. When people can’t get care in a timely matter, they sometimes show up at Emergency Rooms.
Dresden says another possible explanation is people with chronic conditions are finally insured and seeking out long needed medical care. If that’s the case, the spike in ER visits could flatten over time.
Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @shannon_h.