Although most Medi-Cal beneficiaries have a positive perception of the program, some have trouble finding physicians and are using emergency departments more than people with other health insurance coverage, according to a survey by the California HealthCare Foundation, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program. CHCF publishes California Healthline (Gorman, Los Angeles Times, 5/31).
CHCF conducted the survey of nearly 1,100 Medi-Cal beneficiaries under the age of 65 in late 2011 and early 2012.
The survey did not include people who are dually eligible for Medi-Cal and Medicare.
According to the survey:
- 90% of beneficiaries described Medi-Cal as "very good" or "pretty good" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/31);
- 78% of beneficiaries said the program covers most of the medical care that people need (Kleffman, San Jose Mercury News, 5/31); and
- More than 70% of beneficiaries said Medi-Cal provides access to high-quality care.
However, the survey also found that:
- 34% of beneficiaries said it was difficult to find a specialist, compared with 13% of people with other health insurance coverage (Los Angeles Times, 5/31);
- Nearly 33% of beneficiaries said they delayed medical care in the past year because of cost concerns (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/31); and
- Nearly 25% of beneficiaries reported having difficulties finding a primary care provider who accepted patients with Medi-Cal coverage (Los Angeles Times, 5/31).
The survey also found that Medi-Cal beneficiaries are twice as likely to visit the emergency department as people with other health insurance coverage. The finding could be an indication of beneficiaries having greater difficulty obtaining care from a primary care physician, according to the Mercury News (Kleffman, Mercury News, 5/31).
Medi-Cal Poised for Change
The survey comes as the state continues to cut Medi-Cal spending while also preparing to expand enrollment under the federal health reform law (Los Angeles Times, 5/31).
Beginning in 2014, the reform law will extend Medicaid coverage to individuals between ages 19 and 64 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level (California Healthline, 3/19).
Mark Smith -- president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation -- said, "At a time when the program is being cut back, it is poised for a dramatic expansion." He said, "Trying to figure out what it does well and where there is room for improvement is really important" (Los Angeles Times, 5/31).