Objective: To examine the effects of managed care penetration and the uninsurance rate in an area on access to care of low-income uninsured persons and to compare differences in access between low-income insured and uninsured persons across these different market areas.
Data sources: Primarily the Community Tracking Study household survey. Other market-level data were obtained from the Community Tracking Study physician survey, American Hospital Association annual survey of hospitals, Area Resource File, HCFA Administrative Data, Bureau of Primary Care data on Community Health Centers.
Study design: Individuals are grouped based on the level of managed care penetration and uninsurance rate in the site where they reside. Measures of managed care include overall managed care penetration in the site, and the level of Medicaid managed care penetration in the state. Uninsurance rate is defined as the percentage of people uninsured in the site. Measures of access include the percentage with a usual source of care, percentage with any ambulatory care use, and percentage of persons who reported unmet medical care needs. Estimates are adjusted to control for other confounding factors, including both individual and market-level characteristics.
Data collection: A survey, primarily telephoned, of households concentrated in 60 sites, defined as metropolitan statistical areas and nonmetropolitan areas.
Principal findings: Access to care for low-income uninsured persons is lower in states with high Medicaid managed care penetration, compared to uninsured persons in states with low Medicaid managed care penetration. Access to care for low-income uninsured persons is also lower in areas with high uninsurance rates. The "access gap" (differences in access between insured and uninsured persons) is also larger in areas with high Medicaid managed care penetration and areas with high uninsurance rates.
Conclusions: Efforts to achieve cost savings under managed care may result in financial pressures that limit cross-subsidization of care to the medically indigent, particularly for those providers who are heavily dependent on Medicaid revenue. High demand for care (as reflected in high uninsurance rates) may further strain limited resources for indigent care, further limiting access to care for uninsured persons.