In making the case for health reform, proponents argued that as more people got health coverage, emergency room utilization would fall and hospitals would see less uncompensated care. In a welcome bit of good news, it seems that's happening already and it’s improving the bottom line of safety-net hospitals around the country. These hospitals, which typically treat a disproportionate number of poor and uninsured people and are left with unpaid bills totaling billions of dollars, started to see their numbers of uninsured patients dropping almost immediately after the Medicaid expansion took effect in January. Rather than having to rely on emergency rooms for all care, newly insured patients can visit primary care doctors and get diagnostic tests and prescription drugs. And the improvement in uncompensated care hasn't been limited to safety-net hospitals, but is having a general positive impact on hospitals throughout Medicaid expansion states. Theoretically, this should result in lower hospital prices for all...so stay tuned. Employers might want to ask about this positive market impact during upcoming medical plan renewal negotiations.
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