Access to Care and Availability of New Patient Appointments

Findings From an Audit Study

Access to Care for Low-Income Medicaid and Privately Insured Adults  

The first brief in this pair focuses on access to care for low-income Medicaid and privately insured adults, showing that low-income adults with Medicaid and private coverage have comparable levels of primary care access.

Key Findings

  • About 86 percent of both Medicaid and privately insured low-income adults who had been insured for a year or more had a usual source of care, and two-thirds had had a general doctor visit in the previous year.

  • Only a relatively small minority of Medicaid enrollees reported problems finding providers or accessing care because of affordability concerns.

  • Adults with Medicaid coverage received preventive care and screening at similar rates to low-income adults with private coverage.

The Availability of New Patient Appointments for Primary Care at Federally Qualified Health Centers

This brief compares the availability of primary care appointments for new patients at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and other non-FQHC providers. The data suggest that FQHCs were more willing than other non-FQHC providers to accommodate new Medicaid patients, but that FQHC wait times were slightly longer.

Key Findings

  • 80 percent of FQHCs and 56 percent of non-FQHCs scheduled appointments for Medicaid callers.

  • Median wait times for a new Medicaid patient appointment for primary care was nine days at FQHCs and six days at non-FQHCs.