Will the ACA Lead to Significantly More Prescriptions, Refills?

(HealthDay News) — The greater number of Americans with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will lead to only a slight increase in the use of medical services, and the health system can cope with the added demand, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund.

Once the law is fully implemented, the expansion in health coverage will lead to a 3.8% increase in visits to primary care doctors nationally, according to the report. Seventeen states will see increases of >4%, and seven states increases of >5%.

The 3.8% national increase represents about 70 additional visits a year per primary care doctor, or slightly more than one more visit a week. The rise in primary care visits will have only a slight impact on people’s access to care, the researchers said. Expansion of health coverage will lead to a 2.2% rise in emergency room visits and a 2.6% increase in outpatient hospital visits. Hospital admissions will rise 3.1% nationally, and nearly every state will see 2.5% increases in prescription drug use/refills.

The report authors noted that their estimates are based on the assumption that all states will eventually expand Medicaid.

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