A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of the Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California) program found some surprising data. The GAO found Medicaid beneficiaries tend to have nearly as good access to medical care as those on private coverage, despite the public program generally offering doctors lower payments. When it came to medical care and prescription medicine, Medicaid patients reported no more challenges finding doctors than those on private coverage (not statistically significant).
However, not all segments of Medicaid patients have equal access. While children tended to have equal access to doctors regardless of their insurance source, adults on Medicaid fared worse than those on private insurance. About 7.8 percent of working-age adults with fullyear Medicaid reported difficulty obtaining care compared with 3.3 percent of similar adults with private insurance.
The GAO report also did a bit of digging on why patients didnt make it to the doctor. It found the biggest obstacle were not wait times or difficulty scheduling an appointment, but rather a lack of transportation. The transportation challenge was unique among those on Medicaid: It didnt come up nearly as much with those on private insurance, or those with no coverage at all.