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Uninsured make up only 15 percent of ER visits

A new study shows contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of people who use emergency rooms have health insurance. The report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is based on a survey of more than 32,000 households. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

It's long been thought that emergency rooms were inundated with uninsured people. But the study finds the uninsured make up only 15 percent of ER visits.

Debby Rogers is with the California Hospital Association. She thinks more and more people with insurance are using E-Rs out of convenience.

If you can't get an appointment with your primary care physician, if you need to take time of work, sometimes it's more convenient to go to the emergency department at eight o'clock at night, because the emergency departments are open 24-7.

But experts say unnecessary ER usage drives up healthcare costs for everyone. That's because hospital-based care is more expensive than that delivered in doctor's offices. Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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