ACA patients report easy access to primary care

July 15, 2014

Patients who gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been able to access primary care physicians with relative ease, according to a recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

 

Patients who gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been able to access primary care physicians with relative ease, according to a recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund

The survey found that 60% of adults ages 19 to 64, who gained coverage through the federal marketplace or Medicaid expansion, used their new coverage between April and June to go to the doctor or to fill a prescription. Of those patients, 75% said that it was “somewhat easy” or “very easy” to find a primary care physician.

Although appointment wait times have been a cause for concern in many underserved areas, the survey found that 68% of patients who made appointments were able to see a primary care physician within one to two weeks.

The survey found that the overall uninsured rate dropped down from 20% in July to September 2013 to 15% from April to June 2014.

“This is the first survey to look at both coverage trends as well as people’s experiences using their new insurance. The findings suggest that the [ACA] is beginning to achieve its central goal-reducing the number of Americans who are uninsured and improving access to health care,” said Sara Collins, lead survey researcher and The Commonwealth Fund’s vice president for healthcare coverage and access, in a written statement. “Adults who are being helped the most are those who historically have had the greatest difficulty affording health insurance and getting the care they need.”

Timely access to primary care has been a point of concern since the implementation of the ACA. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to conduct its own national survey this fall to determine if Medicaid beneficiaries are able to find physicians. CMS hopes to survey about 1.5 million Medicaid enrollees.