Stritch Magazine 2020 Research
Effects of the Affordable Care Act
As the United States faces a shortage of primary care physicians, a team of Loyola researchers is exploring how health systems can continue to effectively deliver care to patients. Their 2019 study in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine analyzed the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on patient visits to hospital emergency departments (EDs).
Stritch Professor Beatrice Probst, M4 student Luther Walls, and Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health Professor Talar Markossian conducted the multidisciplinary study that compared the severity of ED visits at a local academic medical center and a nearby community hospital before and after ACA implementation.
Using data from more than 350,000 patient visits over six years, the study found ED visits for patients with Medicaid or other government insurance coverage increased at both the academic medical center and the community hospital after the ACA's implementation. When it came to severity of visits, the data differed. At the academic medical center, results showed fewer patients using the ED for non-emergency reasons after the ACA was implemented, aligning with its goals to decrease potentially unnecessary ED visits. However, at the community hospital, data showed the opposite: an increase in non-emergency visits and a decrease in emergency visits.
The inconsistency in the study’s results reveals there is still more research required to understand how patients use insurance to access health care, to help health systems better allocate resources to meet growing demands.