Calif. Clinics Still Waiting on Influx of Newly Insured Patients
Many primary care clinics in California have taken steps to prepare for an expected influx of patients who recently gained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but most clinics have yet to see an increase in demand, HealthyCal reports.
In order to accommodate the predicted increase in demand, many clinics upgraded their facilities to better serve more patients and some health systems opened new clinics.
However, providers at such clinics have not seen an uptick in patients, according to HealthyCal. For example, Joy Alexiou, a spokesperson for Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, said more than 43,000 residents in the county signed up for coverage through Covered California as of the end of February. However, the rate of patients at St. James Health Center in Santa Clara County has remained at about 55,000 patients annually.
According to HealthyCal, one reason such clinics have not seen an uptick in demand is because they typically treat a large number of undocumented immigrants who do not qualify for health coverage under the ACA.
For instance, Constance Tucker -- CMO at the Gardner Family Health Network-- said that only 1% to 2% of several thousand uninsured patients at the network's clinics were found to be eligible for coverage under the ACA.
Health officials said demand could pick up after residents begin receiving their registration packets and insurance cards in the mail. In addition, they noted that some patients will wait until later to begin using their new coverage.
Officials also noted that other factors likely will play a role in increased health care demand in the future, such as the aging population (Bookwalter, HealthyCal, 4/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.