*The median wait time for ER patients increased from 22 minutes in 1997 to 33 minutes by 2006.
*The proportion of ER patients deemed to be suffering from a real medical emergency fell from 26.9% to 18.3% from 1997 to 2007.
*Per capita use of the ER was also up during the same period.
As previous reports have indicated, these numbers aren't driven simply by the uninsured, but stem from a general lack of access to primary care. Of course, I'd add the increasing public perception of the ER as a legitimate source of primary care to the list of casual factors.
Debating the merits of different financing schemes is great - and necessary - but until people have access to their own source of primary care, ER overcrowding will remain a serious problem.