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Newly insured patients may have trouble finding primary care physicians
Date:11/26/2012

better understand the physicians in the primary care safety net, to determine their willingness to accept new Medicaid patients and to assess their attitudes about and interest in quality improvement activities. As part of a 2009 survey of medical professionalism, physicians were asked to indicate the approximate percentage of their patients who were covered by Medicaid or were uninsured and unable to pay. They also were asked whether they were accepting new Medicaid or uninsured patients, along with several questions regarding services they provided to vulnerable populations and their attitudes towards and participation in quality improvement activities. Because of their focus on the primary care safety net, the investigators restricted their analysis to responses from internists, pediatricians and family practitioners.

Of 840 primary care physicians responding to the survey, 53 percent were safety-net providers, defined as having patient panels with more than 20 percent uninsured or Medicaid patients. Half of all responding primary care physicians indicated they were accepting new patients who either were covered by Medicaid or had no means of paying for their care. But safety-net physicians were considerably more likely to accept both patient groups, with 72 percent taking new Medicaid patients and 61 percent taking new patients with no medical coverage. There were no significant differences between the physician groups in reported attitudes about or participation in quality improvement efforts, and safety-net physicians reported greater awareness of and efforts to address disparities in health care than did non-safety-net physicians.

The authors note that the concentration of care for Medicaid and uninsured patients among a limited number of safety-net physicians and the fact that 28 and 39 percent, respectively, of those physicians are not accepting new Medicaid and uninsured patients indicate that the current health care safety net may hav
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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