Medicaid Patients Realize They Can’t Find a Doctor

by Jim Geraghty

A supporter of Obamacare finds that access to health insurance does not automatically turn into access to health care:

“I’m sorry, we are no longer accepting that kind of insurance. I apologize for the confusion; Dr. [insert name] is only willing to see existing patients at this time.”

As a proud new beneficiary of the Affordable Health Care Act, I’d like to report that I am doctorless. Ninety-six. Ninety-six is the number of soul crushing rejections that greeted me as I attempted to find one. It’s the number of physicians whose secretaries feigned empathy while rehearsing the “I’m so sorry” line before curtly hanging up. You see, when the rush of the formerly uninsured came knocking, doctors in my New Jersey town began closing their doors and promptly telling insurance companies that they had no room for new patients.

Writer Danielle Kimberly notes that doctors lament that Medicaid reimburses them far too little money for their treatment. However, doctors also lament that reimbursement takes way too long to arrive and that the paperwork and bureaucracy are far too frustrating.

A study from Merritt Hawkins released in February found that less than half the doctors in the nation’s largest cities take Medicaid patients; in 2009 it was above 55 percent.

The range varies widely from city to city and from specialty to specialty, but in some cities, it is nearly impossible to find a specialist who accepts Medicaid. Only 7 percent of cardiologists in Minneapolis accept Medicaid; only 15 percent of dermatologists in Philadelphia; only 35 percent of obstetricians and gynecologists in Denver; only 28 percent of orthopedists in Seattle, and only 32 percent of family practitioners in New York City.

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