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~4 Percent Increase in Primary Care Visits Expected With ACA

Commonwealth Fund foresees only modest increases in use of services

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The greater number of Americans with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will lead to only a slight increase in the use of medical services, and the health system can cope with the added demand, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund.

Once the law is fully implemented, the expansion in health coverage will lead to a 3.8 percent increase in visits to primary care doctors nationally, according to the report. Seventeen states will see increases of more than 4 percent, and seven states increases of more than 5 percent.

The 3.8 percent national increase represents about 70 additional visits a year per primary care doctor, or slightly more than one more visit a week. The rise in primary care visits will have only a slight impact on people’s access to care, the researchers said. Expansion of health coverage will lead to a 2.2 percent rise in emergency room visits and a 2.6 increase in outpatient hospital visits. Hospital admissions will rise 3.1 percent nationally, and nearly every state will see 2.5 percent increases in prescription drug use/refills.

The report authors noted that their estimates are based on the assumption that all states will eventually expand Medicaid.

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