Californians Report Fewer Health Care Access, Financial Issues
States' acceptance of the Affordable Care Act has affected residents' access to care and possibly their ability to pay medical bills, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study, the Los Angeles Times reports.
For the study, researchers reviewed patients' descriptions of their health care experiences in a 2014 Commonwealth Fund survey. The study focused on the nation's four largest states -- California, Florida, New York and Texas. Two of the states -- New York and California -- have expanded Medicaid under the ACA, while the other two have not.
The researchers found that residents of Florida and Texas reported more problems accessing care than residents of California and New York. Within the last year, the percentage of residents ages 19 to 64 who missed necessary care or skipped filling a prescription was:
- 30% among New York respondents;
- 31% among California respondents;
- 43% among Florida respondents;
- 43% among Texas respondents; and
- 36% in the U.S. overall.
The researchers also found that residents of Florida and Texas also were more likely to report problems with medical bills and medical debt. Within the last year, the percentage of residents ages 19 to 64 who reported medical bill problems or medical debt was:
- 24% among California respondents;
- 29% among New York respondents;
- 41% among Texas respondents;
- 42% among Florida respondents; and
- 35% in the U.S. overall.
Further, the study found higher percentages of uninsured working-age residents in Texas and Florida, compared with California and New York. The study found the rate of uninsured working-age U.S. adults was:
- 12% in New York;
- 17% in California;
- 21% in Florida; and
- 30% in Texas (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 4/10).
The authors attributed much of the disparities in access and financial issues to the states' stance on Medicaid expansion.
Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal said, "States' health policy decisions are a factor in whether or not millions of people have health insurance coverage," adding, "If states don't take the necessary steps to help their residents obtain insurance, we may see ever-widening disparities between states in their residents' coverage and the financial protection it provides" (Leonard, U.S. News and World Report, 4/10).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.