Frequent Users of Health Services


Most communities experience a small number of individuals who repeatedly and excessively utilize hospital emergency department and inpatient services as their primary source of medical care. Their problems tend to be complex, often including chronic illness, substance abuse, mental illness and homelessness. This paper documents “frequent users” and the large share of medical costs they generate for conditions that could have been prevented or more appropriately treated in other community settings and identifies the importance of addressing the needs of frequent users to improve the health of vulnerable individuals and simultaneously improve the health care system.