News Updates — Expanding Coverage and Improving Access


Our biweekly news updates are designed to keep you up to date with current developments relating to the Acute Care Continuum. Feel free to share your perspective on these stories or link to articles that you have found relevant to today’s healthcare environment.

Affordable Care Act Enrollment Low Among Young Adults

Although the Obama administration has reported an improvement in the overall number of enrollees, the number of young adults who have signed up for a health insurance exchange is lower than previously anticipated. Only one in four enrollees is between the ages of 18 and 34, a stark contrast to the White House’s prediction that 40 percent of all enrollees would fall into this age group. However, when comparing the age of these enrollees to those in Massachusetts following that state’s 2006 healthcare expansion, the number of young people enrolled in Obamacare is higher.

EDs Could Help Fill Insurance Enrollee Gap

Following the healthcare expansion in Massachusetts, providers and regulators were surprised to see an increase in the number of patients using EDs as the first point of care. Now some hospitals in California are considering programs that provide uninsured patients with information on how to enroll and financial documents on the state-run program, Covered California. "I think the emergency department waiting room is one of those places where you have low-hanging fruit," Renee Hsai, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told Kaiser Health News. "They’re not the sickest of the sick because at least someone, the triage nurse, has deemed them stable enough to wait. And if they’re waiting, they might as well be filling out some application form, or at least learning about the process."

Access to High-Quality Hospitals May Explain Racial Disparities

While the Affordable Care Act is intended to expand healthcare coverage to large number of uninsured Americans, a new study in JAMA Surgery explains that for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedures, racial disparity in outcomes "is due in large part to unequal access to high-quality hospitals." When accounting for factors such as quality and socioeconomic status, researchers found that 53 percent of racial disparities could be explained by lack of access to nearby, quality hospitals. However, the study reaffirmed that a significant amount of racial disparity in healthcare remains unexplained.