Health and Science
Thu August 9, 2012
Wisconsin's Medicaid Coverage Better Than Many Other States'
More Medicaid patients will seek care under the new federal health law. A national study on access to doctors shows where these patients may have trouble doing that.
If you live in Wisconsin and you're on Medicaid, you're more likely to find a doctor who will treat you than in many other states. A report in the journal Health Affairs shows 93 percent of Wisconsin physicians accept Medicaid payment from new patients. Nationally, that figure averages only 69 percent. Sen. Ron Johnson says this study underscores concerns he has about what he calls ObamaCare: “It's not going to work well. If you want a very succinct description of what's wrong with the health care law, it will increase demand for services while it decreases the supply [of doctors].”
In Wisconsin, one in five residents is on Medicaid. Public interest attorney Bobby Peterson from the health advocacy group ABC for Health says the sheer number of Medicaid patients can make it too big a revenue source to ignore. But what doctors get paid for Medicaid patients is lower than Medicare. Patients do get turned away. Peterson says this doesn't have to happen. ”Having some payment source is better than none. You know, accepting Medicaid versus paying a collection agency, sending out letters and ultimately writing it off as bad debt costs a lot more money than the poor reimbursement rates they claim for Medicaid. So they can help themselves by doing a better job upfront of identifying payment and coverage for families.“
Wisconsin is still considering whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage as part of health reform.
Below, a map showing the percentage of doctors accepting new Medicaid patients. States above the national average show in green, while those below the average show in red. Source: the CDC's National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey