Affordable Care Act Provision Leads to More Efficient ED Use, New Study Suggests
A new study indicates that the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of coverage for dependents has increased the efficiency of medical care delivery by reducing non-urgent emergency department (ED) use among young adults. The study by a team of researchers, including one from AHRQ, found that the Affordable Care Act’s dependent coverage provision, which allows young adults to stay on their parents’ private health plan until age 26, was associated with a modest decrease in the use of hospital EDs. In the study, researchers examined data from more than 17 million ED visits over a 5-year period (2007–2011) from AHRQ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. They found that the quarterly ED-visit rate decreased by a small but statistically significant amount (1.6 per 1,000 population) among young adults after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act provision. The study, “Changes in Emergency Department Use Among Young Adults After the ACA’s Dependent Coverage Provision,” was published March 10 in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.