Characteristics of medicaid-covered emergency department visits made by nonelderly adults: A national study

Roberta Capp, David R. West, Kelly Doran, Angela Sauaia, Jennifer Wiler, Tyler Coolman, Adit A. Ginde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The Affordable Care Act has added millions of new Medicaid enrollees to the health care system. These patients account for a large proportion of emergency department (ED) utilization. Objective Our aim was to characterize this population and their ED use at a national level. Methods We used the 2010 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) to describe demographics and clinical characteristics of nonelderly adults (≥18 years old and ≤64 years old) with Medicaid-covered ED visits. We defined frequent ED users as individuals who make ≥4 ED visits/year and business hours as 8 am to 5 pm. We used descriptive statistics to describe the epidemiology of Medicaid-covered ED visits. Results NHAMCS included 21,800 ED visits by nonelderly adults in 2010, of which 5,659 (24.09%) were covered by Medicaid insurance. Most ED visits covered by Medicaid were made by patients who are young (25 and 44 years old) and female (67.95%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 66.00-69.89). A large proportion of the ED visits covered by Medicaid were revisits within 72 h (14.66%; 95% CI 9.13-20.19) and from frequent ED users (32.32%; 95% CI 24.29-40.35). Almost half of all ED visits covered by Medicaid occurred during business hours (45.44%; 95% CI 43.45-47.43). Conclusions The vast majority of Medicaid enrollees who used the ED were young females, with a large proportion of visits occurring during business hours. Almost one-third of all visits were from frequent ED users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)984-989
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2015


  • Medicaid
  • emergency visits
  • frequent use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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