Having health insurance is great. It largely protects people against financial losses that accrue when you become ill. It provides coverage for medical services. And improves patients health.
Well, that last one is only true if health insurance allows you to access care. When health insurance provider reimbursement is low as is the case for Medicaid coverage, many doctors may not accept this form of insurance. Further, narrow networks may mean that the insurer–rather than the provider–may also limit the types of physicians you can visit. This issue is especially acute in parts of rural America.
This is the topic of a PBS Newshour story of how Medicaid’s tightening access restrictions are making getting health care more difficult, even for the insured.
And having health care coverage is one victory, but actually getting care is another story. The county has no pediatrician, so Britton either takes her sons to a nurse practitioner at a local walk-in clinic or drives 60 miles — twice the distance the federal government defines as reasonable access to care — to see a doctor.
Additionally, in Tennessee, the state government voted to set up Medicaid work requirements. In short, you don’t get Medicaid unless you work. If you become seriously ill, however, it is of course difficult to work. Thus, poor Americans could have their health insurance coverage taken away just at the time when they need it most.
Being poor is difficult no matter where you live. But without generous health insurance that provides access to reasonable quality health care providers, life becomes even harder if you happen to fall ill.