Medicaid enrollment has risen 16 percent, or 9 million people, over the past year because of Obamacare. A new report released today from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, however, finds that while enrollments are up, the number of providers offering appointments is way down. According to the HHS OIG:
We found that slightly more than half of providers could not offer appointments to enrollees. Notably, 35 percent could not be found at the location listed by the plan, and another 8 percent were at the location but said that they were not participating in the plan. An additional 8 percent were not accepting new patients. Among the providers who offered appointments, the median wait time was 2 weeks. However, over a quarter had wait times of more than 1 month, and 10 percent had wait times longer than 2 months. Finally, primary care providers were less likely to offer an appointment than specialists; however, specialists tended to have longer wait times.
So enrollments and wait times are way up, while service is way down—if available at all. This isn’t exactly what the Obama Administration promised the American people. But it gets worse.
As The New York Times’ Robert Pear reports:
The investigators, led by the inspector general, Daniel R. Levinson, called doctors’ offices and found that in many cases the doctors were unavailable or unable to make appointments. …
“In these cases,” Mr. Levinson said, “callers were sometimes told that the practice had never heard of the provider, or that the provider had practiced at the location in the past but had retired or left the practice. Some providers had left months or even years before the time of the call.”
About 8 percent of providers were at the locations listed, but said they did not participate in the Medicaid health plan with which they were supposedly affiliated. Another 8 percent participated in Medicaid, but were not accepting new patients.
“When providers listed as participating in a plan cannot offer appointments, it may create a significant obstacle for an enrollee seeking care,” Mr. Levinson said. “Moreover, it raises questions about the adequacy of provider networks. It suggests that the actual size of provider networks may be considerably smaller than what is presented by Medicaid managed-care plans.”
Once again, when government promises to “manage” some aspect of our lives—be it education, jobs, or energy—we usually wind up with a whole lot less than we bargained for—all while paying a whole lot more.