Now let's consider diagnostic testing and access to prescription drugs. Persons with low- to moderate-incomes, whether they are insured or uninsured, visit the ER because they expect easier access to diagnostic testing there (50% vs. 48%). And both groups turn to the ER when they need prescription drugs, although there is more of spread there—50% vs. 35%.
These findings raise a lot of questions about the quality of health insurance coverage available to these families. The American Hospital Association is quite aware of health insurance shortcomings that continue to encourage using expensive ERs for medical basics.
In a comment letter about essential health benefits, AHA said it would like the Department of Health and Human Services to establish "a universal baseline of benefits, and prevent insurers from picking and choosing the benefits that are covered."
The Commonwealth Fund expects to dig into these issues more deeply as it tracks this survey group over the next couple of years. What it hopes to find in subsequent studies is that the ACA makes a difference in access to insurance, cost of care, and health improvement for the low to moderate income population.
I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this longitudinal study. I want to know if the ACA is accomplishing its goals or whether it's just another behemoth government program.