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Michigan doctors not overwhelmed by Affordable Care Act, study shows

Aug 8, 2016

The Healthy Michigan Plan launched in April 2014. It opened the Medicaid rolls to hundreds of thousands of low-income people for the first time. And no one was quite sure what to expect.

There were widely held fears that the flood of previously uninsured people would make it harder for everyone to get doctor's appointments, and that hospitals would be overloaded with seriously sick patients who, until then, didn't have insurance coverage.

Now, two years down the road, there's enough data for experts to study and analyze.

Marianne Udow-Phillips, the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan Health System joined Stateside to review.

To begin, 600,000 people signed up for Medicaid after the expansion. That's 57% of the previously uninsured population.

"We have not seen patients having difficulties getting appointments for primary care physicians or even specialists."

"The amount of people that enrolled was something we were projecting wouldn't happen for five years," Udow-Phillips said. "So it was almost instantaneous in the state and really exciting for people to see how many people actually got enrolled."

And those early fears that doctor's offices and hospitals would be flooded with newly insured people turned out to be unfounded, Udow-Phillips said.

"We have not seen patients having difficulties getting appointments for primary care physicians or even specialists," she said. 

And most physicians, she said, have been taking Medicaid patients.

"They have room in their practices and patients are not having difficulty getting appointments," she said.

Listen to the full interview above to hear more, including some of the challenges facing the Affordable Care Act, and how the upcoming presidential election could affect the future of the health care law.
 

GUEST:
Marianne Udow-Phillips
is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan Health System.