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Posted on Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.

Health care coverage doesn't guarantee access, Ann Arbor research center finds

By Tina Reed

More Michiganders are delaying health care because they are uninsured or because they cannot access health services with their health coverage, according to a new report from an Ann Arbor-based research center.

At least 20 percent of those responding to a survey said they'd needed -  but did not seek - medical attention in the previous six months, according to the report from the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation.


Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, a non-profit partnership of the University of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Of that group, at least 30 percent said they could not afford the health care coverage.

The report also suggests a person's income, education and gender have more to do with a person's health status than whether or not they had health insurance.

Called Cover Michigan, the report was created from a randomized sample survey of more than 1,000 Michigan adults. It shows a picture of more manufacturing and service workers worrying about losing their health care coverage.

"The survey makes it clear that having health insurance is important but no guarantee of access to health care or self-perceptions of health status," said Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation in a written statement. 

"The survey tells us that those with Medicaid coverage are having difficulties finding providers who will care for them; that even those with health insurance delay needed care at times because of the cost of that care; and, that there is no difference in perceived health status based on insurance coverage."

The results of the study also show:

• While 72 percent of those people who have incomes greater than $150,000 report having good or excellent health, only 14 percent of those with income less than $10,000 can say the same. In comparison, 49 percent of those who have health insurance coverage said they had good or excellent health compared to a similar 47 percent of those who were uninsured, the report said.

• More than one-third of Medicaid recipients said it was a struggle to find a provider who would accept their coverage.

• People with jobs in manufacturing, services the arts and whole sale retail trade expressed the greatest worry about losing health insurance, while those with jobs in information technology, government, construction and education were least worried.

The report is not terribly surprising, said Sharon Parks, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan League for Human Services. 

"But it's terribly important these results are out to increase our understanding of the issue," Parks said. "It's one thing to have an insurance card. It's another thing to be able to afford the coverage."

According to the most recent data available from the Michigan State Medical Society, a survey of member doctors showed the percentage who accepted Medicaid patients fell to 64 percent in 2005 from 88 percent in 1999, a spokeswoman said.

The Cover Michigan report suggests that the national debate on health care reform needs to consider more factors than simple health care coverage, Udow-Phillips said in a statement.

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.



Wed, Mar 10, 2010 : 5:48 a.m.

1bit, I'd rather see a few individuals declare bankruptcy for medical reasons than the whole country declare bankruptcy. That is what your wonderful Universal Coverage will result in.


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 7:30 p.m.

Insurance covers routine costs because it helps prevent the need for emergency costs, which are far more expensive. If a doctor can detect, at a regular checkup, early signs of diseases like diabetes or cancer the long-term costs go down. Catch most diseases early and you can either cure them faster or prevent long term complications. It turns out that paying for more frequent "regular" doctor visits or simpler surgeries and chemotherapies is far cheaper than amputations and surgeries and advanced chemotherapies needed for later stage cancers. It may be "easy" for some people to budget "routine" care, but that only works for people with above-poverty level incomes. For people with nothing there's nothing to budget with.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

Why should health insurance cover routine care? My car insurance doesn't cover oil changes. Routine care is a predictable cost that can be budgeted for. I'd rather pay for it out of my own pocket than pay a corporation to tell me what I do or don't need or what doctor I can go to. People need some skin in the game if we want costs to come down. Right now, the doctors can charge whatever they want, because the consumer pays their $20 co-pay and insurance covers the rest.


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

I can not find coverage since my treatment for cancer when I was only those stories about being unable to get insurance for pre-exsisting conditions are too!! The system is broken and until BCBS and other private insurers are held accountable it will remain broken!!


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 11:15 a.m.

Lets face it people. We all pays for each others health insurance already whether it is trough our taxes or through the added price we pay for goods and services. People without health coverage go to emergency wards where they get taken care of and we all pay higher prices because of it. Spain has universal health coverage with a Private Option and fewer people in Spain die waiting to be taken care of than in the US. The insurance are always saying they want more people in their pool so they can spread the risk out. So why are do they want to fight against universal coverage?


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 10:34 a.m.

I've been unemployed for 21 months. While I'm still able to afford very minimal health insurance, it in fact covers very little of the routine office visits and tests that are a normal part of staying healthy. I find I postpone doctor visits, as well as vision and dental visits, and am concerned that I won't be able to pay for something more serious, should it arise. This is stupid in a nation such as ours. Why can't people see that money would be saved by cutting out the insurance companies and moving to a single-payer universal health care system?


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 4:32 a.m.

What Technojunkie proposes is the best solution I've heard of but our so called leaders in Washington want to control the people by making them dependent on the government for everything. Effective competition comes when people pay for something out of their own pocket rather than someone elses. Let's get govenment and employers out of the health insurance business.


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 9:53 p.m.

Introducing effective competition to the medical business would lower prices, raise quality, and improve outcomes.


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 7:39 p.m.

Buy catastrophic insurance and the cost difference between that and bloated Blue Cross will let you pay cash for routine medical expenses and still have money left over. Tax shelter that deductible in a HSA if you need to. Go with a refundable tax credit plan to help people pay for such an insurance/HSA combination like Sen. McCain proposed and you could get near universal coverage while cutting bureaucracy. Unless the point is government control, then it's no good at all.


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 6:45 p.m.

"The survey tells us that those with Medicaid coverage are having difficulties finding providers who will care for them; that even those with health insurance delay needed care at times because of the cost of that care" And Medicare is cutting doctors payments by 21.2%!