Impact of Demographics on Healthcare Utilization
The Affordable Care Act is intended to reduce healthcare costs through policy changes. These include expanding healthcare coverage, potentially reducing costly emergency department visits, and reducing hospital readmissions. The feasibility of achieving savings via these routes is in question. Healthcare-seeking behavior is complex; expanding insurance coverage may increase ED usage. This study shows a positive correlation between ED usage and public insurance coverage rates. Readmission rates may be driven by factors beyond the control of hospital policy; this study corroborates that finding. In both cases, data collected automatically for syndromic surveillance is shown to be informative for healthcare policy questions.