Access to Primary and Dental Care Among Adults Newly Enrolled in Medicaid


Objectives: Adequate access to primary and dental care is essential for population health, and some state Medicaid programs have expanded insurance coverage for both. However, there are few data on new Medicaid enrollees’ ability to access services. We examined the relationship between provider supply and enrollees’ identification of usual sources of care.

Study Design: Between November 2015 and February 2016, we surveyed low-income adults newly insured through Medicaid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to determine if they had a usual source of care. Additionally, we used geospatial methods to calculate adult population per provider ratios by Census tract for primary and dental care providers who accepted Medicaid patients, then identified low-supply clusters.

Methods: We used multivariable logistic regression models to describe the odds of identifying usual sources of care based on being in low- or high-supply clusters, adjusting for patient demographics.

Results: Of 1000 contacted individuals, 312 completed the survey. Among respondents, 168 were previously uninsured and newly enrolled in Medicaid; 66.7% of this group identified a usual primary care provider and 42.3% identified a usual dental care provider. In adjusted analyses, individuals living in low- and high-supply areas had similar likelihoods of identifying a usual source of primary or dental care.

Conclusions: Many new Medicaid enrollees did not have usual sources of primary or dental care, regardless of nearby provider supply. Efforts to understand what improves access or engagement in healthcare among Medicaid enrollees are critical after low-income adults gain insurance.