Government health plans does not mean getting care, CU hospitals show

This Denver Post article illustrates a key point about government-run health plans: having coverage does not mean you get medical care:

Two clinics at University of Colorado Hospital — considered the state’s safety net for the needy — are turning away patients on government insurance plans because they can’t afford to treat them.

Colorado recently has added about 100,000 people to its Medicaid rolls, which is why the problem of shrinking access for Medicaid patients seems more acute.

The issue isn’t unique to University Hospital. Many physicians across Colorado and the country have stopped taking Medicaid and Medicare patients in recent years because they say they are not reimbursed enough by those government plans. Doctors’ offices typically can break even on Medicare patients and are reimbursed about 70 cents on the dollar for the costs of caring for Medicaid patients.
Health care experts say the problem is likely to get worse as millions of uninsured Americans are added to the Medicaid program. Just because those people have insurance, some argue, it doesn’t mean they will find doctors to treat them.
For suggestions on  how to reform Medicaid, read the chapter on Medicaid in the Cato Institute’s Handbook on Policy.

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