Younger Workers vs. Older Workers Going to the Emergency Room Explaining Differences in Utilization and Price

Posted Date: November 01, 2007
    


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The emergency room (ER) is often the first stop for workers who are injured on the job. The ER provides initial treatment for a wide range of injuries and illnesses, some of a routine nature and others that are potentially life-threatening or require immediate attention.

This study examines the extent to which the age of an injured worker is a factor in both the utilization of emergency services (number of ER services per claim) and the price of those services (measured in terms of payment per service). The study uses data on workers compensation claims and related medical detail for the period 1996–2003.

The analyses in this paper suggest that:

  • Younger workers use the emergency room on a higher percentage of claims than do older workers, possibly because younger workers are less likely to have health insurance and, hence, a regular doctor.
  • The prevalence of "bundled" charges in hospital billing precludes a complete analysis of payment per service between younger workers and older workers. Where individual procedures can be clearly identified (for medical examinations in the ER), age-related "price" differences are generally low.