Almost 80 percent of adults who visit the emergency room cite lack of access to other provider as a reason

Lack of access to other providers was cited by almost 80% of adults who visited an emergency room from January to June 2011, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report examines data from a CDC survey for the period January through June 2011, for adults aged 18–64 who had an ER visit in the past 12 months that did not result in hospital admission. 

Key findings include:

  • About 79.7% of adults visited the emergency room due to lack of access to other providers, significantly more than the 66.0% who visited due to seriousness of the medical problem.
  • Adults with public health plan coverage were twice as likely as those with no health insurance to visit the emergency room because their doctor’s office was not open.
  • The most common individual reasons for the last emergency room visit were: only a hospital could help (54.5%), the doctor’s office was not open (48.0%), or there was no other place to go (46.3%).
  • Adults living outside a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) were more likely than those living in an MSA to visit the emergency room because their doctor’s office was not open.
  • Uninsured adults were more likely than those with private health insurance or a public health plan to visit the emergency room due to having no other place to go.
  • Adults with unmet medical need were less likely than adults without unmet need to visit the emergency room because their doctor’s office was not open, and more likely to visit because they had no other place to go.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov, May 2012; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, May 29, 2012)