The American College of Emergency Physicians says so, based on a survey of ER doctors. The survey was not properly designed to test that hypothesis.
According to the doctors’ group-sponsored a survey, “[nearly half of emergency physicians responding to a poll are already seeing a rise in emergency visits since January 1 when expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began to take effect.”
As always, it’s good to check a survey’s methodology before drawing any conclusions. And this survey’s methods were highly suspect, as the ACEP press release discloses, perhaps inadvertently:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Marketing General Incorporated on behalf of the American College of Emergency Physicians between April 4-14, 2014, among 1,845 adults age 18 or older, providing a response rate of 8 percent and a margin of error of 2.3 percent.
A response rate of 8% means that 92% did not respond. MGI assumes that the 1,845 ACEP members who responded are no different from the 21,428 ACEP members who didn’t. Is there any reason to believe this is true? No. Respondents tend to differ from nonrespondents because participating in the survey is more important to them. Similarly, respondents who want their experiences magnified have much stronger incentives to participate. Considering just the ACA question, it is entirely plausible that ER physicians who have observed increased traffic were more motivated to respond to the survey. It appears from the survey report that MGI did nothing to rule out sampling bias. MGI simply assumed that its respondents were representative.
In short, MGI’s results (including its reported margin of error) are statistically unreliable. That’s survey research malpractice.
Interestingly, MGI claims (p. 3) that its 8% response rate “is above average based on previous research MGI has conducted in the past.”
Typically, we see a 10% response rate for online surveys which are open for 4 to 5 weeks. The current survey was open for just over a week.
In other words, MGI routinely commits survey research malpractice.