This article was in the LA Times LOS ANGELES, Dec. 27 (UPI) — States may save money if homeless adolescents have health insurance — a key to greater use of outpatient care rather than expensive emergency-room services.
Researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles tracked newly homeless adolescents and their use of medical facilities. “The findings suggest that facilitating health insurance coverage for these youth may lead to increased use of outpatient care services, which may prevent costly emergency room services for conditions that could have been treated in the outpatient setting,” said Dr. M. Rosa Solorio, senior research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and assistant professor of family medicine.
Writing in the current issue of the journal Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, Solorio suggested that there is a need for interventions geared toward this group in facilitating health-insurance coverage. She noted that California homeless shelter operators can help the youngsters apply for MediCal. Solorio determined that most of the youths followed in the study were seeking treatment for sexually transmitted diseases or for reproductive health. Homeless youth were also likely to seek ER treatment for common conditions such as respiratory illnesses and gastrointestinal problems that could have been treated in an outpatient setting.
“The most common predictor of outpatient service use was whether the youth had health insurance,” Solorio reported.