They found, for example, that nearly 90% of the Medicare beneficiaries in Wilmington, N.C., had at least one annual primary-care visit even though the area had about 30% fewer primary-care physicians than White Plains, N.Y., where only 70% of the Medicare-age residents had a yearly checkup.
The researchers also found no relationship between primary-care visits and whether patients received breast-cancer screening, diabetes testing, leg amputation and hospitalization for conditions that require intensive outpatient care, such as diabetes and congestive heart failure.
The findings indicate that policymakers should set their sights beyond increasing insurance coverage and access to primary care, lead author and co-principal investigator David Goodman said in a news release. “Policy should also focus on improving the actual services primary care clinicians provide and making sure their efforts are coordinated with those of other providers, including specialists, nurses and hospitals,” Goodman said.
The report also found that the likelihood that people received regular primary care depended more on where they lived than their race or income. Black residents overall, however, were less likely to get primary care.