Medicaid patients tend to be in worse health and visit the emergency room more, often as a result of having barriers—more so than privately insured patients—to seeing their primary care physician, a new report finds.

A study published online this week in Annals of Emergency Medicine found as many people insured by Medicaid as by private insurance report barriers to primary care. But Medicaid patients are twice as likely to visit the emergency department.

"Even those Medicaid patients who have primary care physicians – and that is less likely than for people with private insurance—report significant barriers to seeing their doctor," said senior author Adit Ginde of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, Colo. "Medicaid patients tend to visit the ER more, partly because they tend to be in poorer health overall. But they also visit the ER more because they can't see their primary care provider in a timely fashion or at all."

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