The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Eye-Related Emergency Department Use

A study aimed to assess the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on nationwide eye-related emergency department (ED) use in the United States. The results were presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2021 annual meeting.


To conduct this analysis, Tahreem A. Mir, MD, and colleagues utilized the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample to analyze the national incidence of eye-related ED visits before (2010-2013) and after (2014-2017) the ACA was mandated. A total of 16,808,343 eye-related ED visit patients were included in this analysis (average age, 30 years; 53.4% men), which sought to discern change in payer status and relative proportion of emergent visits.


After the ACA was mandated in 2014, there was an increase in incidence of eye-related ED visits, from 652.4 per 100,000 in 2013 to 711.0 per 100,000 in 2017. The investigators observed that the percentage of uninsured patients decreased (19.0% to 14.3%), and those with Medicaid coverage increased (29.4% to 36.0%). Only 38.3% of the ED visits were emergent, the researchers noted.


Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that, “emergency department utilization for nonemergent ophthalmic conditions continues to rise in the United States despite the increase in insurance coverage.”


Source: Mir T, Qiang K, Chow J. The Impact of the ACA on Eye-Related Emergency Department Utilization in the United States. Poster 252. Published for AAO 2021; Nov. 12-15, 2021, New Orleans, LA.