New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and Rutgers-Eagleton Explore New Jersey Residents’ Comfort With Alternatives To The ER in Latest Health Matters Poll
PRINCETON, N.J. – The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI), in partnership with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, released a poll exploring where most New Jerseyans receive their health care, what their comfort levels are receiving care in a variety of settings, such as urgent care centers, private physician offices, and emergency departments, and under what circumstances they would seek care at alternate locations.. This poll is the latest in the Health Matters series, a partnership between the two organizations that studies New Jerseyans’ attitudes on a variety of health-related issues.
The results come at a pivotal moment for New Jersey as the Governor introduces his budget for FY2017-18, and health care, particularly Medicaid, is always a large portion of the budget.
The poll found more than half of New Jerseyans are comfortable seeking care at an urgent care center, especially for an urgent medical concern. Six in 10 residents say they would be more likely to choose an urgent care setting over an ER if they could reduce the time they wait, reduce their out-of-pocket expenses, and receive more time with the health care provider.
Of particular note is that even now that the uninsured rate in New Jersey is 8.7 percent, the lowest it has been in over 3 decades, 8 percent of the individuals reported that they receive medical care from a hospital emergency room “all of the time.”
“The Affordable Care Act enabled 800,000 more people in New Jersey to enroll in health insurance plans. Yet many people still go to hospital emergency rooms for their non-emergent care,” said Linda Schwimmer, President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “Shifting care from emergency rooms to physician offices or community health centers that have same day scheduling or extended hours, or using urgent care facilities in appropriate circumstances, would reduce costs for people, employers, and government-funded programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare.”
New Jerseyans are more likely to go to a private physician’s office to receive medical care than any other location: 57 percent say they seek out medical care at a private physician’s office “all of the time,” and another 34 percent say they get medical care there “some of the time.” Just 9 percent say they never get medical care at a doctor’s office. In a distant second, New Jerseyans are next most likely to say they receive medical care all of the time (8 percent of respondents) or some of the time (56 percent of respondents) at a hospital emergency room.
“Almost one in 10 residents seek care at emergency departments all the time, but the emergency department is not cost-efficient for general non-emergency care or considered effective for long-term care of chronic illness,” Schwimmer noted.
Slightly fewer say they go to an urgent care facility — 3 percent go here all of the time, and 46 percent go some of the time. New Jerseyans are least likely to use a walk-in retail store clinic (4 percent say all of the time, 18 percent say some of the time) or a community health center (5 percent say all of the time, 16 percent say some of the time).
“Key differences in care settings emerge by gender, race, age, and income – some of which are likely due to personal preference and others, because of systemic barriers,” said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. “For example, lower income residents are less likely to frequent urgent care facilities, yet they would be quite comfortable using them in a variety of scenarios.”
“A possible barrier to using urgent care centers among certain groups may be that many of these facilities, much like private physicians, do not accept Medicaid,” Schwimmer explained. “Yet patient outcomes improve and costs decline when consumers seek the right care in the right place.”
The entire report is available here.
Results are from a statewide poll of 772 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3, 2016. The sample has a margin of error of +/-4. percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.
New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute
The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is the only independent, nonpartisan, multi-stakeholder advocate for health care quality in New Jersey. The Quality Institute’s mission is to undertake projects and promote system changes that ensure that quality, safety, accountability and cost-containment are closely linked to the delivery of health care services in New Jersey. Learn more about us at www.njhcqi.org.
Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP)
Home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, ECPIP was established in 1971. Now celebrating its 45th anniversary and over 200 public opinion polls on the state of New Jersey, ECPIP is the oldest and one of the most respected university-based state survey research centers in the United States.
ECPIP’s mission is to provide scientifically sound, non-partisan information about public opinion. ECPIP conducts research for all levels of government and nonprofit organizations with a public interest mission, as well as college and university-based researchers and staff. ECPIP makes it a priority to design opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to learn how to read, analyze, design, and administer polls. To read more about ECPIP and view all of our press releases and published research, please visit our website: eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu. You can also visit our extensive data archive, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
Carol Ann Campbell Ashley Koning, Interim Director
New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute Eagleton Institute of Politics
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