Medi-Cal recipients in California continue to face big challenges when it comes to actually accessing care, especially in the Central Valley. That's the conclusion of a new report by researchers at the UCLA Center For Health Policy Research and the California HealthCare Foundation.
The study looked at survey data from across the state for both Medi-Cal enrollees and those with private insurance provided through their employers.
Shana Alex Charles is one of the study's authors.
Charles: "Medi-Cal is not keeping up with private job-based coverage in giving good access to care both on the outcome side and status side, but also on the actual realized side, on access and potential access for its enrollees."
The study found that Medi-Cal enrollees were twice as likely not have a usual source of care other than the emergency room, and were three times as likely to have trouble finding a doctor. The report also finds that those with Medi-Cal who live in rural or suburban areas have a harder time accessing care than those who live in urban areas.
There was a bit of good news in the research. Charles says the access to care gap between private insurance and Medi-Cal wasn't nearly as large for children as it was for adults.
Charles says one solution to the gap could be in attaching enrollees to providers when the first sign up.
Charles: "Not just giving someone a card and saying ok now you go out and find a provider, but at the point of enrollment identifying here is the hospital you're going to be affiliated with, you can choose this doctor or not, and starting that from the enrollment process side."
The study also found that Central Valley Medi-Cal patients were more likely to change their regular source of care.