ER visits covered by Medicaid increased 6 percent in 2009

The number of Medicaid-subsidized inpatient hospital stays originating in the emergency room increased more than 6 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to SDI.

The healthcare market insight and analytics firm, based in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., said the growth rate of all inpatient hospital stays that began in the ER was little more than 1 percent.

Overall, in 2009, hospital outpatient ER visits by Medicaid recipients increased more than 6 percent, while total hospital outpatient ER visits nationwide dropped 1.3 percent.

“The current poor state of the economy is likely a contributing factor to the rise in Medicaid inpatient and outpatient hospital encounters,” said Joe Priest, SDI's vice president of hospital, payer and government services. “The trend is consistent with other information that suggests that people who are unable to afford medical treatment will seek care at a hospital, where they know it will not be denied.”