AHRQ: U.S. Adults Seeing Big Barriers to Specialty Care

About one in 13 who need specialty care report 'big problem' in gaining access to specialists
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In 2007, about one in 13 of U.S. adults reported that access to specialist care was a "big problem," according to a December report issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

AHRQ researchers Kelly Carper and Steven Machlin analyzed 2007 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey on the perceived need and access to specialist care among civilian, non-institutionalized U.S. adults aged 18 years and older.

Overall, the researchers found that about 8 percent of the nearly 36 percent of respondents who needed to see a specialist reported that access was a "big problem." They also found that respondents aged 25 to 44 years were more than twice as likely as adults ages 65 and over to report problematic access, and that those aged 18 to 64 without insurance were significantly more likely to report problematic access than their counterparts with private or public insurance.

"Among elderly persons needing a specialist, those with Medicare and supplemental public insurance were much more likely to report access was a big problem than those with Medicare only or Medicare and supplemental private coverage," the authors write. "Adults with no usual source of care were much more likely to report that access to specialist care was a big problem."

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