The HHS released new data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (the largest all-payer emergency department database in the United States) indicating that uninsured persons account for nearly one-fifth of the 120 million hospital-based emergency department visits in 2006. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius indicates that the health care system has forced too many uninsured people to depend on emergency care as their primary source of medical care.

The database is managed by HHS's AHRQ and generates national estimates on the number of emergency department visits in all community hospitals by region, urban/rural location, teaching status, ownership and trauma designation. It also provides in-depth information on acute management of patients for all visits, including why patients were seen in the emergency department, the treatments they received, what happened to them at the end of the visit (admitted to the hospital, discharged home, transferred to another hospital, died in the emergency room or left against medical advice), the charge for their care and who was billed.

The Nationwide Emergency Department Sample is designed to help public health experts, policymakers, health care administrators, researchers, journalists and others find the data they need to answer questions about care that occurs in U.S. hospital emergency departments. The Sample contains 26 million records from emergency department visits from approximately 1,000 community hospitals nationwide. This represents 20 percent of all U.S. hospital emergency departments. The database also provides weighted calculations for national estimates of the 120 million emergency department visits in 2006. You can find more information here.