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Health Reform Reverses Drop in Medical Access, Study Says

Health Reform Reverses Drop in Medical Access, Study Says

Most Americans have experienced a decade-long decline in access to medical care that may continue to spiral downward if President Obama’s healthcare law is repealed by Congress or overturned by the Supreme Court, according to a study released this week. Published in this month’s issue of Health Affairs, the study found that access to care for Americans aged 19 to 64 significantly deteriorated between 2000 and 2010 – even among patients with private health insurance. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act targets this age group. Researchers at the nonpartisan Urban Institute found that in 2010, adults were 66% more likely to report unmet medical needs than in 2000 and 79% more likely to have unmet dental needs. Although access was worse among the uninsured, 10.2% of Americans with private insurance reported unmet medical needs by 2010. “If the key coverage provisions in the (law) are ruled unconstitutional or repealed, projections indicate that the numbers of uninsured people will grow,” the researchers wrote. They conclude that their findings suggest that eliminating the law or curtailing the coverage expansion could result in continued erosion of adults’ access to care. Full study: May 2012 Health Affairs. Physician’s Weekly wants to know…do you agree that repealing the Affordable Care act will negatively impact access to healthcare?...
Rejection of Medicare & Private Coverage "Overstated"

Rejection of Medicare & Private Coverage "Overstated"

Several recent news articles from the media have discussed a drop in the number of physicians who accept patients with Medicare. However, recent trends in acceptance of various insurance types have not been examined, according to an analysis published in the June 27, 2011 Archives of Internal Medicine. Using data from a national survey, three doctors examined trends in physician acceptance of several insurance types, as well as self-pay patients. Their hope was that understanding “these trends can help informpolicymakers of potential access problems, particularly giventhe shortages in primary care, an aging population, growingprevalence of chronic disease, and insurance expansion underthe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Looking at data from 2005 to 2008, researchers found only a 2.6% reduction in the number of physicians who accepted patients with Medicare. The decline in acceptance was seen mostly among physicians in private practice. By contrast, physician acceptance of patients with private, non-capitated insurance had a more pronounced decline, dipping from 93.3% in 2005 to 87.8% in 2008. Acceptance of self-paying patients did not change significantly over the study period. Acceptance among both the above groups was still higher than that for patients with Medicaid and private, capitated capped insurance; a decline was seen over the study period among both latter groups. Based on their finding that more than 90% of physicians still accept Medicare patients despite marginal increases in reimbursement, the research team suggested that “anecdotal reports may be overstating access problems.” They noted that the decline in acceptance of private, non-capitated insurance was unexpected and suggested that it may be related to reimbursement and administrative burden. Lower reimbursement may...
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