A recent study by The Commonwealth Fund, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at variations in access to care and their associated implications for quality of care and health outcomes. Analyzing data from the Commonwealth Fund report, Rising to the Challenge: Results from a Scorecard on Local Health System Performance, 2012, the study found widespread differences across local areas in residents’ ability to access care, with implications for receipt of preventive care and outcomes. The study found that where a person lives matters. The proportion of uninsured adults (ages 18 to 64) ranged from 5 percent in Massachusetts’ three local areas to more than half in two local areas in Texas. Wide variation was also seen in the proportion of adults who went without care because of cost (5% to 33%) and among adults age 50 or older or with a chronic disease who visited a doctor in the previous two years (67% to 95%). The analysis also found that areas with poor access to care had relatively poor-quality care on a number of indicators, including the number of unsafe prescriptions among Medicare beneficiaries, avoidable emergency department visits, and deaths from conditions that are potentially preventable with timely care.
Read full study: Geographic Variation in Access to Care—The Relationship with Quality, New England Journal of Medicine