Access to Physician Services in New Jersey before ACA Implementation, 2012-2013

Facts & Findings
A physician attends to an elderly woman.

These data provide a baseline for future monitoring of New Jersey residents’ access to physician services.

The Issue:

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is expected to provide, beginning in 2014, an estimated 444,000 New Jersey residents access to health insurance through expansion of the Medicaid program or private insurance plans available though the federal marketplace. Having insurance coverage, however, does not always mean a person can find a physician and get needed care.

The key findings below are for access to physician services before the ACA’s 2014 expansion of coverage:

Key Findings

  • Some New Jersey adults were unable to find a general physician (5.1%) or specialist (6.1%). Most (60–65%) who had trouble finding a doctor eventually did find one.

  • The uninsured and those covered by Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare had a harder time finding a general physician. Some 8.2 percent were told that the doctor would not accept them as a new patient; 17.7 percent were told that the doctor would not accept their health insurance coverage.

  • In general, adults (ages 25–64), females, white non-Hispanics, and Hispanics had more trouble finding physicians or physicians who would accept them as patients.

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It is possible that coverage expansion will lead to deterioration in access, at least in the short term.

Brownlee, et al.

About the Study:

Data were taken from a sample of 5,195 New Jersey adults as part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (January 2012–June 2013).