Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
Expansion of Medicaid and private health insurance coverage through passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was expected to increase primary care access and reduce emergency department (ED) use by reducing financial burden and improving affordability of care. The aim of this study was to examine the differences in utilization patterns that exist among the Medicaid population that participated in an optimal level of care (OLC) intervention inclusive of appointments scheduled to primary care providers. Using the integrated behavior model as a theoretical framework, the key research question focused on determining if there was a difference in ED use among Medicaid individuals who scheduled follow-up appointments compared to those that did not schedule follow-up appointments. The sample population consisted of 176 Medicaid enrollees who presented to the ED for treatment of nonurgent conditions and participated in an OLC intervention from June 2016 to July 2017. The results showed that there were no differences in ED utilization between the population that had scheduled appointments compared to the population that did not have scheduled appointments. A bivariate analysis on demographic variables also showed no differences in ED utilization among the variables. The social change implications of this study are that the practice of scheduling appointments with primary care providers does not reduce or affect ED utilization in the Medicaid population. This study contributes to positive social change through the findings that reducing ED utilization requires more than follow-up appointment scheduling with primary care providers. Further studies are warranted to understand the potential barriers and factors that affect ED utilization.