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HHS data: Uninsured patients accounted for one-fifth of hospital-based emergency visits in 2006


WASHINGTON New data released by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius indicated that uninsured patients accounted for nearly one-fifth of the 120 million hospital-based emergency visits in 2006.

“Our healthcare system has forced too many uninsured Americans to depend on the emergency room for the care they need,” stated Sebelius. “We cannot wait for reform that gives all Americans the high-quality, affordable care they need and helps prevent illnesses from turning into emergences.”

The data, released on Wednesday, is from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, the largest, all-payer emergency department database in the United States. The database is managed by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and generates national estimates on the number of emergency department visits in all community hospitals, by region, urban/rural location, teaching status, ownership and trauma designation. It also provides in-depth information on acute management of patients for all visits, including why patients were seen in the emergency department, the treatments they received, what happened to them at the end of the visit, the charge for the visit and who was billed.

The National Emergency Department Sample contains 26 million records from emergency department visits from roughly 1,000 community hospitals nationwide. This represents 20% of all U.S. hospital emergency departments.

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