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Natl Health Stat Report. 2016 Feb 18;(90):1-16.

Reasons for Emergency Room Use Among U.S. Adults Aged 18-64: National Health Interview Survey, 2013 and 2014.



This report examines the percentage of adults aged 18–64 who had an emergency room (ER) visit and their reasons for the most recent visit.


Using the 2013 and 2014 National Health Interview Survey, estimates of use in the past year and reasons for most recent ER visit are presented. A hierarchy was created to classify respondents’ reasons for their last ER visit into three mutually exclusive categories: seriousness of the medical problem, doctor’s office or clinic was not open, and lack of access to other providers.


In 2014, 18% of adults visited the ER one or more times. Seriousness of the medical problem was the reason for the most recent ER visit for 77% of adults aged 18–64, 12% because their doctor’s office was not open, and 7% because of a lack of access to other providers (4% did not select any reason). Percentages were similar in 2013. Controlling for other variables, adults with Medicaid were most likely to report that seriousness of the medical problem was the reason for the most recent ER visit. Adults with private coverage were most likely to have used the ER because the doctor’s office was not open. Uninsured adults were more likely than adults with private coverage to have visited the ER because they lacked access to other providers. Differences in reasons for use between demographic groups were also identified.


Few changes in ER use were noted between 2013 and 2014. Differences persist in ER use and reasons for ER use at most recent visit by insurance type as well as sociodemographic characteristics.

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