Decline in primary care visits continued after ACA

Decline in primary care visits continued after ACA

The long-term decrease in primary care contact was not interrupted following implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a study published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Michael E. Johansen, M.D., from OhioHealth in Columbus, and Caroline R. Richardson, M.D., from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (2002 to 2016) to investigate individuals' contact with the (for physicians, , specialty physicians, emergency departments, inpatient hospitalizations, dental visits, and home health visits). Comparisons were made between the pre-ACA (2012 to 2013) and post-ACA (2014 to 2015) periods.

The researchers found that the uninsured rate decreased from 12.8 percent in 2013 to 7.6 percent in 2016. The numbers of individuals in a month who had contact with primary care physicians, dental care, and inpatient hospitalizations decreased from 2002 to 2016. The largest decreases in primary care physician contact were seen among the elderly and those reporting fair/poor health. Few were seen post-ACA implementation in the overall population or by age, poverty category, race/ethnicity, or health status.

"The medical ecology framework was not notably altered two years after implementation of the ACA," the authors write.

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