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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Memphis Finds That Paid Sick Leave is Associated with Fewer Emergency Room Visits among U.S. Adults Working in the Private Sector

A study led by Dr. Soumitra Bhuyan, an assistant professor of health systems management and policy at the University of Memphis School of Public Health found evidence that the availability of paid sick leave is associated with fewer emergency department visits (ED) among U.S. adults working in the private sector. The study used the National Health Interview Survey data from 2012-2014, which is a multiyear nationally representative database that is used to monitor the health and health care characteristics of the civilian no institutionalized population residing in the U.S. The study found that availability of paid sick leave is associated with a lower likelihood of ED utilization for moderate (1-3 times/year) as well as repeated users (4 or more times/year), after adjusting for all other factors. Additionally, the effect of paid sick leave is stronger for frequent ED users.


[Photo: Dr. Soumitra Bhuyan]

The Accountable Care Act aims at improving access to healthcare services, mainly through expanding health insurance coverage. Although most states have now expanded or currently considering to expand their state Medicaid programs, the expansion alone does not guarantee access to timely care for new enrollees if other socio-economic barriers such as availability of paid sick leave days widely exist, specifically in the private sector. “ Considering the U.S. is suffering from chronic shortage of primary care providers in addition to lack of paid sick leave to see a regular provider, the newly insured population is more likely to visit EDs as regular source of care, as suggested by evidence from Oregon and Massachusetts” added Dr. Cyril Chang, Professor of Economics at the University of Memphis and a co-author for the study.

The findings from this study were published online in the January issue of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

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