Medicaid Isn't Healthcare
Congratulations, you're Medicaid eligible! You now have health insurance. What's that? You actually wanted health care? Oh, well, that's something different. Why didn't you say so?
Children with Medicaid are far more likely than those with private insurance to be turned away by medical specialists or be made to wait more than a month for an appointment, even for serious medical problems, a new study finds.
The study used a “secret shopper” technique in which researchers posed as the parent of a sick or injured child and called 273 specialty practices in Cook County, Ill., to schedule appointments. The callers, working from January to May 2010, described problems that were urgent but not emergencies, like diabetes, seizures, uncontrolled asthma, a broken bone or severe depression. If they were asked, they said that primary care doctors or emergency departments had referred them.
Sixty-six percent of those who mentioned Medicaid-CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) were denied appointments, compared with 11 percent who said they had private insurance, according to an article being published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
In 89 clinics that accepted both kinds of patients, the waiting time for callers who said they had Medicaid was an average of 22 days longer.
Health insurance isn't the same thing as health care. Not by a long shot. By focusing the national debate on who has health insurance we're missing the far bigger problem of who actually has access to care. That's what we should be focused on instead of obsessing over how many people are subscribers to a particular type of insurance product.