What This Study Found
- Visits to new primary care physicians (PCPs) increased significantly for patients changing insurers relative to patients staying with the same insurer.
- For patients initially covered by Medicaid, the monthly rate of visits to new PCPs increased by an average of more than 200 percent after changing insurers, and their rate of visits to new specialists rose by almost 50 percent.
- For patients initially covered by private insurance, changing carriers was associated with a nearly 50 percent increase in new PCP visits while visits to new specialists fell slightly. The overall decline in new specialist visits was caused by lower use among patients who faced higher deductibles after changing plans.
- These average utilization changes reflected larger changes in use shortly after the insurance switch that diminished over the subsequent year.
- The rate of ED visits increased significantly for Medicaid patients in the month of their insurance transition, relative to levels seen in the four to twelve months before the transition, but quickly returned to baseline levels.