Higher Demand Unlikely To Overwhelm Doctors in Calif., Other States
Coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act are expected to produce a modest increase in the demand for doctor visits that health care systems in California and other states likely can handle, according to a Commonwealth Fund issue brief, HealthDay/Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The predictions are based on the assumption that all states eventually will expand their Medicaid programs under the law (Preidt, HealthDay/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/25).
According to the state-by-state analysis, the ACA is expected to spur growth by:
- 3.8% for primary care visits;
- 3.1% for hospital inpatient visits; and
- 2.6% for hospital outpatient visits.
The report noted that much of the increase in demand will be the result of U.S. residents gaining coverage under the ACA's Medicaid expansion. According to the study, 64% of the additional visits will come from Medicaid beneficiaries and 36% will come from privately insured individuals.
Meanwhile, the study projected that emergency department visits among newly insured individuals will increase by 2.2%, or one 1.1 million visits. Medicaid beneficiaries would account for about 67% of such visits.
Following ACA implementation, the issue brief predicts that California doctors will see an average of:
- 13.04 additional emergency department visits per week by newly insured individuals; and
- 1.16 additional primary care visits per week by newly insured individuals.
Meanwhile, doctors are expected to see an average of less than one additional weekly visit for:
- Ob-gyn care;
- Psychiatry; and
- Surgical care (Commonwealth Fund issue brief, February 2015).
In a statement, Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal said the findings "eas[e] concerns that primary care practices will be unable to accommodate people who gain new coverage through the [ACA]."
However, he urged "continual monitoring of the capacity of our health system to meet increased demand" (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 2/25).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.