Paid sick leave associated with less emergency department use, study finds

Implementing mandatory paid sick leave at a state level is associated with a decline in emergency department visits for both adults and children, and is particularly pronounced among Medicaid populations, according to an August 2022 study published in Health Affairs

The researchers compared emergency department visit rates before and after implementation of state regulations requiring paid sick leave for seven relevant states — Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont — from 2011 through 2019. 

They found that these states that implemented mandatory paid sick leave saw a 5.6 percent reduction in emergency room visits relative to their average baseline rate before the law was enacted. The decrease in ED visits was true for both adults and children, and was particularly clustered among Medicaid patients, who saw a 9.9 percent relative decline. 

"Mandatory paid sick leave may be an effective policy lever to reduce excess ED use and costs," read the study.

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