Medicaid Patients Struggle to Get Primary Care, Visit ERs More

ObamaCare will add at least 16 million more people to Medicaid, the worst health coverage program in the country.  The program pays doctors and hospitals so little — about half of what private insurance pays — that it is hard for millions of Medicaid patients to find a private doctor to see them.

And today we have new data to prove that Medicaid patients are twice as likely to go to a hospital emergency room for even routine care.  A new study in Annals of Emergency Medicine  (“National Study of Barriers to Timely Primary Care and Emergency Department Utilization Among Medicaid Beneficiaries”) finds that twice as many people insured by Medicaid as by private insurance report barriers to primary care.  Further, Medicaid patients are twice as likely to visit the emergency department as their privately insured counterparts.

“Even those Medicaid patients who have primary care physicians -– and that is less likely than for people with private insurance -– report significant barriers to seeing their doctor,” said senior author Adit Ginde, M.D., MPH, FACEP, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, Colo. “Medicaid patients tend to visit the ER more, partly because they tend to be in poorer health overall. But they also visit the ER more because they can’t see their primary care provider in a timely fashion or at all.”

Instead of reforming the program, ObamaCare will make it even harder for the 50 million low-income people already on the program to get the care they need.  States could do a much better job with Medicaid if they were given more flexibility and control over the program.