Background and objectives: This study sought to determine whether Medicaid patients with a regular source of care (RSOC) are less likely to be hospitalized, either for all conditions or for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs), than those without an RSOC.
Methods: This population-based survey study examined Delaware Medicaid patients ages 0-64 over a 1-year period from September 1992 to August 1993 (n = 22,862). Patients who had made more than 50% of their physician office visits to the same provider group were considered to have an RSOC. The probability of hospitalization for all conditions and for ACSCs was compared for persons with and without an RSOC.
Results: Eighty-one percent of Medicaid clients had an RSOC, 75% of whom were primary care physicians. Persons with an RSOC were not less likely than those without an RSOC to be hospitalized for any condition (15% versus 14.6%) or for ACSCs (3.4% versus 3.2%). The results were not substantially different for persons who used primary care physicians as their RSOC.
Conclusions: Having an RSOC is not associated with a lower likelihood of hospitalization for the Medicaid population, either for all conditions or for ACSCs. While providing access to care may have other positive benefits, simply providing Medicaid patients with an RSOC is unlikely to result in a short-term reduction in hospital admissions.