Access to Health Care Is Becoming More Problematic

Access Declines for Adults over the Previous DecadeThe Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released a report that measured state-level changes in access to health care between 2000 and 2010. The report looks at the likelihood of having unmet medical needs due to cost, the likelihood of receiving a routine checkup, and receiving a dental visit, and it found that there had been a deterioration in access to care in nearly every state. Unsurprisingly, access in these three areas deteriorated most for the uninsured, putting the uninsured at a drastic disadvantage compared to those with insurance.

Specifically, in Nebraska there was a

  • 6.1% increase in those who had an unmet medical need as a result of cost
  • 12.5% decrease in those who received a routine checkup
  • 7.4% decrease in those who had a dental visit.

In short, Nebraska showed a significant deterioration in access across all three categories, and in the latter two categories, Nebraska showed decreases of twice the national average. And, while the uninsured experienced significantly more problems in access, there was a negative impact even for those who had health insurance.

These findings suggest that the expanded coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act may result in dramatic improvement in healthcare access and outcomes. In addition to expanding Medicaid to all adults between 19 and 64 years of age who make less than 138% of the federal poverty level, the ACA also requires that preventive care services be provided at no cost to the insured, provides tax credits to make insurance more affordable, as well as providing important consumer protections. Clearly, health care reform is necessary, and will have a real, positive impact for thousands of Nebraskans.

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