ACA didn’t decrease emergency department use for eye care
Despite the Affordable Care Act (ACA) potentially increasing access to outpatient ophthalmic care, a decrease in emergency department use for eye-related problems was not seen, according to a study.
Overall, there were 16,808,343 eye-related ED visits during the study period from 2010-2017, with 8,088,203 visits occurring before the ACA was mandated (2010-2013) and 8,720,766 visits after 2014-2017 the ACA was mandated.
An initial decline in the incidence of eye-related ED visits was noted in 2014 after the ACA was mandated followed by a rapid increase in incidence in 2015 and a further increase in 2016.
There was a decrease in uninsured patients from 19.0% to 14.3% and an increase from 19.0% to 14.3% in patients with Medicaid.
People in the lowest income quartile had the greatest increase in ED use.
Nearly half of ED visits (44.8%) during the study period were due to non-emergent eye issues.
“Additional measures beyond expanding insurance coverage may be necessary to provide high quality, efficient and equitable outpatient ophthalmic care to all Americans,” the authors concluded.
Mir TA, Mehta S, Qiang K, et al. Association of the Affordable Care Act with Eye-Related Emergency Department Utilization in the United States. Ophthalmology. 2022;S0161-6420(22)00498-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2022.06.038. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35792199.