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The cost of unnecessary ER visits

We waste more than $30 billion per year on emergency-room care that could be better delivered in a primary-care setting, according to new data out today from UnitedHealth Group.

By the numbers: According to United's analysis of its own claims data, about two-thirds of ER visits are avoidable, and those visits cost on average $1,800 more than they would at the appropriate venue.

My thought bubble: The use of the ER for primary care is often treated as a thing that happens mainly in lower-income areas with lower health literacy and worse access to primary care. But United is analyzing claims from people with employer-based insurance, who tend to be wealthier.