Summary: The number of Californians covered by Medi-Cal increased more than 50% between 2013 and 2018, largely due to expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This rapid expansion of Medicaid rolls prompted concerns that Medi-Cal enrollees would face greater difficulty accessing health care.
Authors examine whether gaps in access to care between Medi-Cal and employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) present in 2013 (prior to ACA implementation) had changed by 2018 (several years post implementation). They also conducted secondary analysis of data from the 2013 and 2018 California Health Interview Survey. The sample included adults ages 18–64 insured all year and covered by ESI or Medi-Cal at time of interview. Logistic regressions were used to examine variation across years in the association between access to care and insurance type. Five access to care outcomes were assessed: no usual source of care, not accepted as new patient in past year, insurance not accepted in past year, delayed medical care in past year, and difficulty getting timely appointment. The main predictors of interest were type of insurance (Medi-Cal or ESI) and survey year (2013 and 2018).
Findings: The association between insurance type and access to care changed significantly over time for three outcomes: not accepted as new patient in past year, delayed medical care in past year, and difficulty getting timely appointment. Predicted probabilities indicate gaps between Medi-Cal and ESI narrowed for not accepted as new patient in past year and difficulty getting timely appointment but widened for delayed medical care.
Despite the rapid expansion of the Californians covered by Medi-Cal, most gaps in access to care between Medi-Cal and ESI enrollees improved or did not significantly change between 2013 and 2018:
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