Survey: California health insurance 'satisfactory,' unless you need a specialist

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A survey of Medi-Cal enrollees finds that a majority of the 7.5 million Californians who receive the state-sponsored health insurance are generally satisfied with the care they get — except when it comes to access to medical specialists.

The survey of nearly 1,100 Medi-Cal enrollees under age 65 found that while 90 percent hold a positive view of California’s Medicaid program and about 70 percent say they’re satisfied with their overall care, significant access problems exist among those in fair or poor health.

The study by the California Healthcare Foundation found that 1 in 3 patients who need a specialist say it’s challenging to find one who will accept Medi-Cal.

Among those in fair or poor health, those stats are worse, with nearly half reporting it tough to find a willing specialist.

That access problem is among the greatest challenges facing the program if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds federal health care reform. That’s because under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 2 to 3 million additional Californians will qualify for Medi-Cal in 2014.

Among the survey’s other findings: 17 percent of enrollees have postponed recommended tests, treatment or followup care due to the expense. Also, adult Medi-Cal enrollees were twice as likely as adults with other coverage to visit an emergency room in the past year, and to report difficulty in getting an appointment with a primary care doctor or specialist.

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