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J Gen Intern Med. 2012 Nov;27(11):1548-54. doi: 10.1007/s11606-012-2173-7. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Access to care after Massachusetts' health care reform: a safety net hospital patient survey.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance, 1493 Cambridge St;, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA. dmccormick@challiance.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Massachusetts' health care reform substantially decreased the percentage of uninsured residents. However, less is known about how reform affected access to care, especially according to insurance type.

OBJECTIVE:

To assess access to care in Massachusetts after implementation of health care reform, based on insurance status and type.

DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS:

We surveyed a convenience sample of 431 patients presenting to the Emergency Department of Massachusetts' second largest safety net hospital between July 25, 2009 and March 20, 2010.

MAIN MEASURES:

Demographic and clinical characteristics, insurance coverage, measures of access to care and cost-related barriers to care.

KEY RESULTS:

Patients with Commonwealth Care and Medicaid, the two forms of insurance most often newly-acquired under the reform, reported similar or higher utilization of and access to outpatient visits and rates of having a usual source of care, compared with the privately insured. Compared with the privately insured, a significantly higher proportion of patients with Medicaid or Commonwealth Care Type 1 (minimal cost sharing) reported delaying or not getting dental care (42.2 % vs. 27.1 %) or medication (30.0 % vs. 7.0 %) due to cost; those with Medicaid also experienced cost-related barriers to seeing a specialist (14.6 % vs. 3.5 %) or getting recommended tests (15.6 % vs. 5.9 %). Those with Commonwealth Care Types 2 and 3 (greater cost sharing) reported significantly more cost-related barriers to obtaining care than the privately insured (45.0 % vs. 16.0 %), to seeing a primary care doctor (25.0 % vs. 6.0 %) or dental provider (58.3 % vs. 27.1 %), and to obtaining medication (20.8 % vs. 7.0 %). No differences in cost-related barriers to preventive care were found between the privately and publicly insured.

CONCLUSIONS:

Access to care improved less than access to insurance following Massachusetts' health care reform. Many newly insured residents obtained Medicaid or state subsidized private insurance; cost-related barriers to access were worse for these patients than for the privately insured.

PMID:
22825807
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3475814
Free PMC Article
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