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Access to Physicians in California's Public Insurance Programs

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Publication Date: May 2004

Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Marsha Gold; Erin Fries Taylor

Topic: Health (Health care planning)

Type: Brief

Coverage: California

Abstract:

This issue brief provides insight into the issues associated with physician access for people covered by California's Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs. The authors summarize five studies commissioned by CHCF and the results of an extensive review of literature. Key findings include:

*Enrollment in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families improves access to physician services; however, access is worse for those whose coverage is intermittent. *Adult beneficiaries experience more access problems than children enrolled in these public programs. *Beneficiaries with chronic illnesses and those who require specialty care face more access problems. *Medi-Cal beneficiaries enrolled in fee-for-service Medi-Cal may experience worse access than those enrolled in Medi-Cal managed care. *There are large differences in access across counties for those covered by Medi-Cal and Healthy Families.

The findings underscore areas for improvements in California's public insurance programs and suggest dimensions of access that should continue to be monitored.