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Kids on Medicaid are Often Turned Away by Doctors

An undercover research survey reveals that children having public insurance often get turned away by doctors, and also have to wait a long time to get treatment. This shocking occurrence happens even at the offices of doctors who accept patients having public insurance.

The researchers say one of the reasons is the lower Medicaid reimbursements compared to private insurance. This research was conducted in Cook County in Illinois, a state where Medicaid payment for a doctor visit is about $100, compared to about $160 paid by private insurers.

The researchers say there are about 40 million children in the US on Medicaid, who may not be getting prompt treatment for dangerous ailments like depression, diabetes and asthma, among others. The study was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the undercover survey, 66% of Medicaid children were refused appointments by specialists, compared to just 11% of kids with private insurance. Medicaid children were made to wait for 42 days to get an appointment, compared to 20 days for privately insured children.

Fifty percent of the clinics asked insurance information before granting appointments. Many clinics cited Medicaid as the reason for denying an appointment.

Many doctors who denied appointments to Medicaid kids said they work in hospitals or health systems that discourage them from treating too many public insurance patients. Financial reasons are the main cause for this discriminatory treatment as the doctors cited payment delays and hassles in dealing with Medicaid patients.

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