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Week of April 1, 2013

Michigan Medicaid recipients report easier access to primary care in ‘12

Survey results released by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) show that Michigan Medicaid recipients said they found it easier to get primary and specialty care appointments in 2012 than they did in 2010. In fact, their level of reported ease was comparable to those with employer-sponsored coverage.

In the survey of 1,018 Michigan adults, more Michigan residents — both insured and uninsured — responded that they had a primary care provider compared to 2010. Medicaid recipients reported the greatest increase, from 72 percent in 2010 to 88 percent in 2012.

Just as in 2010, the uninsured still were significantly less likely to have a primary care provider (56 percent) compared to the insured (87 percent) in 2012, and were more likely than the insured to seek medical treatment in emergency rooms (12 percent) and urgent care centers (9 percent).

“The 2013 CHRT provider survey showed that most primary care providers anticipate the ability to take new Medicaid patients starting in 2014. Our Cover Michigan Survey provides additional good news about physician capacity to serve an expanded Medicaid population in Michigan. Current Medicaid recipients are already reporting an easier time accessing care than they did previously,” says Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of CHRT and a lecturer at the School of Public Health.

Additional findings from the survey include:

• A significantly higher proportion of Medicaid recipients reported having an easier time scheduling primary care appointments in 2012 compared with 2010 (91 percent vs. 74 percent, respectively). In 2010, only 50 percent of those with Medicaid coverage reported ease in scheduling specialty care appointments, increasing to 83 percent in 2012.

• Those with individually-purchased health coverage reported experiencing difficulty in scheduling primary care appointments. This group reported a statistically significant drop in ease of scheduling a primary care appointment. Eighty-three percent indicated that scheduling appointments was “very” or “somewhat” easy in 2012, down 13 percentage points from 2010, when 96 percent reported it was either “very” or “somewhat” easy to schedule a primary care appointment.

• Uninsured respondents used hospital emergency rooms as usual sources of care at higher rates (12 percent in 2012) than those with any form of coverage.

• Overall, respondents noted an increased use of public or community clinics. The percentage of respondents who reported using doctors’ offices as their primary locations of care decreased (80 percent in 2010 compared with 76 percent in 2012), while the percentage of respondents who reported using a public or community clinic increased (5 percent in 2010 compared with 8 percent in 2012).

“Since 2010, much has changed in how health care is organized and delivered in Michigan — in both public and private health insurance programs,” says Udow-Phillips. “This survey suggests that these changes have been positive for Medicaid recipients, but more challenging for those with individually purchased health coverage.”

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