Medicaid Patients With Lupus Travel Farther to See Doctors

Type of healthcare coverage influences access to care, study suggests

MONDAY, April 30, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. Medicaid patients with lupus travel farther to see specialists than patients with other kinds of health coverage, a new study reports.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, conducted telephone interviews with 982 lupus patients and found that those covered by Medicaid had to travel longer distances to obtain lupus-related care from any health professional, especially rheumatologists.

The study also found that even though Medicaid patients were as likely as other patients to have seen a rheumatologist for a similar number of visits per year, the Medicaid patients reported more visits to general practitioners and to emergency rooms.

"These results suggest that Medicaid patients may face barriers on obtaining comprehensive medical services in proximity to their residences," the study authors wrote.

The study is published in the May issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

Future studies may look at the long-term effects of limited access on health care quality and outcomes for lupus patients with Medicaid coverage.

"The results of such a study would enable further exploration of the relationship between socioeconomic status and clinical outcomes, and perhaps influence the development of public policy promoting access to care for less advantaged populations," the study authors wrote.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about lupus.

SOURCE: Arthritis Care & Research, news release, April 30, 2007
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