Emergency department usage in Massachusetts rose slightly both during and immediately after implementation of a 2006 state law expanding healthcare access, a sign that broader availability of insurance may increase use of the ED, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers report in a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The review of 13.3 million visits from 2004-2009 suggests multiple factors--including access to primary care, pent-up demand for healthcare services, and the 24-hour availability and perceived efficiency of care in the ED–must also be weighed in assessing the likely impact of the federal Affordable Care Act on ED use.

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