Do Primary Care Physicians offer less care to Medicaid patients?
The research project focused on comparing length of visit and content of visit of Medicaid patients, uninsured patients and those with private insurance. Results showed no significant difference in the average length of a primary care visit or in the likelihood of a patient receiving preventive health counseling. In fact Medicaid patients received slightly more diagnostic and treatment services.
The average amount of time spent in a primary care visit was 18.5 minutes for all patients. New patients took more time and established patients generally less. Other factors that influenced length of visit was primary diagnosis, mental illness, and age. Older patients had slightly longer visits than younger patients.
The most basic conclusion of this study is that when patients have access to primary care they receive comparable care regardless of payment source. This implies a follow up study is needed to analyze accessibility for the patients in the Medicaid program currently in place. However, the ACA also calls for increased payment rates in Medicaid for primary care physicians which should help Medicaid patients access providers. These researchers went on site a previous study, by Elizabeth McGlynn, related to quality of care and payment source comparisons. Once again there was not a disparity found between payment sources but rather an overall opportunity for quality improvements.