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As the US Population Ages, Hospital and Doctors Visits Shoot Up

icians throughout 2005 for the study.

Of 2.4 billion drugs mentioned in patients' medical records in 2005, 118 million were antidepressants, Burt found. High blood pressure drugs followed, with 113 million and arthritis or headache drugs were mentioned in 110 million.

"These are visits. These aren't people," she said. People taking antidepressants may need more frequent doctor visits.

The report also shed light on the controversial issue of ER visits. Many health care experts are worried that the 43 million people who lack health insurance in the United States must rely on emergency rooms for care -- not the best way to prevent serious conditions.

The survey suggests this is true. "People with no insurance are twice as likely to use the emergency department as the privately insured," Burt said.

Nearly 28 percent of all doctors visits by uninsured people are to emergency rooms, compared to 6.6 percent of visits made by people with insurance. The report found that 46 million of the visits made to ERs in 2005 were by people with insurance, compared to 19 million by people without insurance.

"With 315,000 people visiting emergency departments every day, the alarm bells are sounding and policymakers should heed the alert and respond," said Dr. Brian Keaton, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, which is pressing for a national commission on access to emergency medical services.


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