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Access in Brief: Adults’ Experiences in Obtaining Medical Care

Commission finds adults with Medicaid as likely to have a usual source of care but more likely to experience other barriers to care than privately insured patients.

Although adults with Medicaid are just as likely to have a usual source of medical care as adults with private coverage and their access to care is better than uninsured adults across the board, they report struggling with access to care for many services at greater rates than privately insured adults, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Access Commission (MACPAC).

The findings were among those in three issue briefs issued in November 2016 comparing adults’ access to medical care in general, oral health services, and cancer screening, based on whether they had Medicaid coverage, private insurance, or were uninsured. The analyses were based on data from the National Health Interview Survey, the principal source of information on the health of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States, and the Household Component of the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey, large-scale survey data on specific health services that Americans use.

MACPAC’s analyses show adults with Medicaid have more trouble finding physicians to treat them and who will accept their insurance, more delays getting appointments, as well as more problems with transportation when they need medical care when compared to privately insured adults of comparable income, disability status, or race and ethnicity. MACPAC found that Medicaid-enrolled adults were less likely than privately insured adults to have had a dental visit.

On the other hand, women with Medicaid coverage were as or more likely to get certain cancer screenings such as Pap smears as women with private coverage; women with Medicaid whose income level was below 138 percent of the federal poverty level had comparable mammography rates to women of similar income with private insurance (although private rates were slightly higher in recent years).

Read the issue briefs, Adults’ Experiences in Obtaining Medical Care, Adults’ Use of Oral Health Services, and Use of Cervical, Breast, and Colon Cancer Tests among Adult Medicaid Enrollees, at, and follow @macpacgov on Twitter.