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emergency department, emergency physician, uninsured



  1. Langland-Orban, Barbara
  2. Pracht, Etienne
  3. Salyani, Seena


Abstract: Uncompensated emergency department (ED) visits can negatively affect patients, clinicians, and hospitals, particularly as overcrowding occurs. Florida provides a unique market to analyze uncompensated ED care due to the high percent of for-profit hospitals, which typically provide significantly less uncompensated care, coupled with the older population that is more likely to be insured through Medicare.


A survey of 188 Florida hospital emergency physician groups was conducted to estimate the level of uncompensated care provided by each ED physician group in 1998. The response rate was 44 percent (eighty-three ED physician groups). All ED physician groups provided substantial uncompensated care regardless of hospital ownership type. Uncompensated care averaged 46.8 percent and ranged from 25.8 to 79.4 percent. A model was developed to predict the amount of uncompensated care using ED volume and payer mix. A rise in the percent of self-pay patients causes a disproportionate increase in uncompensated care, such that EDs with high levels of self-pay visits have markedly higher uncompensated care rates. The results suggest the need for a uniform reporting method of ED physician uncompensated care cost.