Florida kids go to the emergency room more often than kids in the rest of the country—even when they have insurance—according to a new analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute.
The researchers at HCCI analyzed three years of insurance company billing information from Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Kaiser Permanente to look at trends in how children are receiving health care.
They found that children in Florida and across the country are going to the doctor less often, but when they do it’s getting more expensive.
One place Florida is puzzlingly different is in how kids are accessing care. Florida children are more likely to go to the emergency room than their peers.
“But what’s really interesting is that the national average rate of ER visits … have been declining over the last three years and we didn’t find that in Florida,” said senior researcher Amanda Frost. “We found that in Florida, the use of ER visits is actually increasing every year that we’ve studied.”
The analysis didn’t get into why this is happening, but Frost says it raises questions about how accessible primary care is for Florida’s children.
A survey earlier this year from NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation did show that Floridians reported a harder time getting in to see their doctors when they needed them over the past couple of years.
“The most important thing that we can remember when we’re looking at a report such as this is that while these are just numbers on a page there are real children behind these numbers,” says Frost.
WLRN is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.