KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Decrease In Doctor Appointments, Preventable Hospital Visits Draw Scrutiny

Medpage Today offers a pair of stories exploring Census findings regarding doctor visits in 2010 as well as MedPAC's interest in "preventable" hospital visits.

Medpage Today: Census: Doc Visits In 2010 Fewer, Farther Apart
Nearly 73 percent of Americans visited a medical provider in 2010, but they went significantly less often than they did 10 years ago, the Census Bureau reported. A new report of census data examined relationships between Americans' health statuses, insurance coverage, demographic characteristics and use of health care services using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. It found that the average adult between the ages of 18 and 64 went to a medical provider an average of 3.9 times in 2010, compared with the 4.8 times the average adult went in 2001. … Reduced visits to the doctor most likely have to do with rising health care costs that have affected both insured and uninsured Americans (Pogorelc, 10/8).

Medpage Today: MedPAC Eyes 'Preventable' Hospital Visits
A quarter of all initial hospital admissions and roughly 60 percent of all walk-up emergency department (ED) visits are potentially preventable, the nonpartisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) said Friday. Those rates translate to roughly 94 admissions and 158 visits per 1,000 beneficiaries per year, staffers told commissioners on the second day of their 2-day meeting here. Heart failure was the most frequent reason for a preventable admission, and upper respiratory tract infection was the most frequent reason for a preventable ED visit (Pittman, 10/8).

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