Emergency Department Use by Medically Indigent Rural Residents

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project completed:
April 2003
Many emergency department (ED) visits are not paid by third party payers but instead are paid out-of-pocket by the patient or remain uncompensated. Nationally, 15% of all ED visits were self-paid in 1998; in South Carolina during the same year, 26% of ED visits were self-paid. This burden is leading hospitals, including rural hospitals, to close EDs. The project will perform a cross sectional analysis of all ED use in South Carolina in 1998. "Medically indigent" patients will be defined as those for whom payor status is "self-pay" or "none." Findings from this analysis will be used to develop national estimates of the burden of uncompensated ED care in rural areas. In addition, South Carolina data will be studied to determine whether the presence of a federally qualified community health center or rural health clinic in the county reduces the burden of uncompensated ED care.

Publications

  • Emergency Department Use By Medically Indigent Rural Residents
    Rural and Minority Health Research Center
    Date: 07/2003
    This report examined emergency department (ED) use, combining national data and South Carolina state data to estimate the uncompensated charges in rural EDs nationally and the ameliorating effects of rural community health centers on ED use by rural residents.
  • Emergency Department Use by Medically Indigent Rural Residents
    Fact Sheet
    Rural and Minority Health Research Center
    Date: 2004
    An estimated 211 million emergency department visits were made across the United States during 1999-2000, 37 visits per 100 persons per year. Just under a quarter of these, 43 million visits, were made to rural emergency departments.