Obamacare and the frequency of use in healthcare

Regardless of the hits and misses, the fact is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – or ObamaCare, as it became known – has always generated great discussions in healthcare sectors around the world. The “Patient Affordable Care and Protection Act” (PPACA), enacted in 2010, sought to expand access to health coverage for US citizens. 

We have already commented here on the importance of learning from the successes and failures of the program launched by then-President Barack Obama. Just to put it in context, in the United States, there is no universal public health system for everyone. The government provides health care only to low-income people through the Medicaid program, and to people over 65 through Medicare. Those who do not benefit from the programs must hire a health plan. One of the complicating factors, however, is that the US has the most expensive healthcare services on the planet.

Still echoing the theme and expanding the subsidies for reflection on the results of the program, the work “Trends in Preventable Inpatient and Emergency Department Utilization in California Between 2012 and 2015 – The Role of Health Insurance Coverage and Primary Care Supply” (Trend of frequency of use of emergency rooms and hospital admissions in California between 2012 and 2015 – The role of health plans in Primary Care) published in the 22nd edition of the Scientific Bulletin sought to analyze the relationship between the increase in the rate of health plan coverage promoted by the government American with the frequency of patients in primary care and the use of emergency rooms and hospitalization. 

The study finds that increased Medicaid coverage in the state was associated with long-term growth in emergency room visits and an even greater reduction in hospital admissions. This is because the rate of admission of patients in general to the emergency department jumped from 29.8% to 33.5% between 2012 and 2015. The hospitalizations that could be avoided showed a decrease of 4.0% in the same period. It is worth remembering that, according to the study, the percentage of Californians aged between 18 and 64 with Medicaid health insurance coverage increased from 11.9% in 2012 to 20.8% in 2015. The uninsured percentage decreased from 24, 3% in 2012 to 11.9% in 2015. 

The reflection that results from this research is that an evidence-based analysis of the impact of primary care is very important, as it has the potential to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations. This can contribute to the quality of care and the economic and financial sustainability of supplementary health.

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