AHRQ: emergency departments treat poor children most often

May 23, 2008

Lower-income children make nearly twice as many emergency department visits as higher-income children, according to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Low-income children make nearly twice as many emergency department visits as high-income children, according to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The analysis compared data on more than 12 million emergency department visits by children under age 18. Children were from average household incomes of either $36,999 or more than $61,000. For every 1,000 children in the low-income group, there 414 emergency visits, compared with 223 visits for every 1,000 children in the high-income group.

Additional findings included that, among all emergency visits, 96% resulted in children being treated and released. Furthermore, 45% of all visits were covered by Medicaid, 43% were covered by private insurance, and 9% had no insurance.