(HealthDay News) — For uninsured adults, the average price of scheduling a primary care appointment before implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was $160, according to a study published in the May issue of Health Affairs.
Brendan Saloner, Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues used data from a 10-state telephone survey in which callers posed as patients to examine prices for primary care visits offered to new uninsured patients prior to the ACA insurance expansion.
The researchers found that the mean price quoted was $160. The prices were significantly lower at family practice offices vs. internists, in offices participating in Medicare managed care plans, and in federally qualified health centers. Offices in ZIP codes with higher poverty rates also had lower prices. Eighteen percent of callers were told that they could bring less than the full amount to the visit and arrangement payment of the remaining amount later.
“Our study adds important context to understanding the ACA insurance expansions that are under way,” the authors write. “Health insurance should reduce the out-of-pocket spending burden among the uninsured.”