Uninsured May Have Better Access to Care than Medicaid Patients

About 47% of providers surveyed by the American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) said say that it is harder to get an appointment with a primary-care physician if you are a Medicaid patient than if you are an uninsured patient. For specialist appointments, 44% say uninsured patients were better off; and 32% say Medicaid patients were better off. Only 2% say that Medicaid patients have no problem getting an appointment with a specialist.

Forty-eight percent say it can be extremely difficult for a Medicaid beneficiary to get drugs, medical equipment, or diagnostic tests; 27% say it can be moderately difficult at times; and only 13% say it’s no problem.

Providers’ comments were overwhelmingly negative about Medicaid. Rural patients who can’t drive or travel may have no access to care except through charity. Some areas have no hand surgeons, endocrinologists, dentists, or rheumatologists who accept Medicaid. Many cardiology tests are questioned or denied, even echocardiograms for inpatients. Many drugs, even common generics, are not available without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Treatment for chronic pain is especially difficult. It may be very challenging to get non-emergency surgery approved, no matter how necessary.

One physician writes called Medicaid simply a jobs program for administrators and quasi-medical professionals with little money going to the health care part of the equation. Another said that t poor customer service and excessive paperwork a commonplace with Medicaid. It can cost more to file a Medicaid claim than a physician can ever hope to collect. In fact, a physician may lose less money by just seeing the patient for free. One physician said that, since denials for appropriate treatment are much more common than approvals, it is insane to expand “such a horrendous program.” For more information, visit www.aaps.org.

Last Updated 05/25/2022

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