Do children deserve special attention when it comes to their health care needs? No, we aren't talking about charitable healthcare at all. How about children who have Medicaid coverage? Does the fact that they have free health insurance change anything about the kind of treatment they are given? Sad as it is, that's exactly what happens all over the country?as if by prearrangement. Anyone who tries to make an appointment for a child has to answer a question on the phone about the kind of coverage the child has. When the receptionist (or whoever) learns that there is no private children's health insurance involved?that it's only Medicaid, they right away schedule the child for an appointment one month away. If they don疆?簞 refuse an appointment altogether. There have been reports of how parents who call for an appointment for a child with a broken bone or a dog bite, are still given an appointment a week away.
So why should hospitals care about what kind of children's health insurance a patient comes in with? They still get paid the same whether it's private or Medicaid, don't they?
You'd think that, but as anyone knows about what it is like dealing with the government, hospitals that accept Medicaid patients find it takes them a whole lot longer to get paid (and Medicaid pays 50% less). They get a lot of grief dealing with red tape too. In general, no one is eager to deal with Medicaid. And things are only set to get worse. States all over the country are bankrupt and are planning on cutting down on their Medicaid budgets. And then, the new healthcare reform from President Obama promises to add several million people more to the Medicaid plan, further straining the program's finances.
All of this isn't mere anecdotal evidence, of course. An in-depth study on children's access to medical care published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June has all kinds of horror stories to report. The study sent researchers posing as parents of sick children to hundreds of clinics in Illinois, asking for treatment for broken bones, deep depression, diabetes, epileptic seizures, dog bites and the like. Two out of three times, these people found that they were denied appointments. People who have regular paid insurance will usually be denied treatment more than 10% of the time. In the study, anyone who sought treatment for a child with Medicaid insurance had to wait three weeks longer than any child with private medical insurance.
Most people would react with horror to how unfeeling human nature can be?denying medical care to a child with an animal bite or a seizure for three weeks. But think about it this way for a second?what would you do if you were doctor? If you spent your time treating a patient who had private children's health insurance, you would get $160 for your trouble. If you treated a child who had Medicaid, you would only get $100. You are worried about your student loans and your personal expenses. What would you do?