Individuals who purchased health insurance via exchanges in 2014 were more likely to book checkups than those covered through their employer, according to data provided by ZocDoc, a free online tool used to book appointments, as reviewed by Reuters.
ZocDoc reviewed consumers ages 18 to 64 and found that "the vast majority who signed up in the first wave of Obamacare didn't have acute medical needs, contrary to expectations," said Oliver Kharraz, M.D., ZocDoc's co-founder and chief operating officer. "The biggest news here is the absence of dramatic utilization differences."
ZocDoc also found that those who used the site were slightly younger females who were more technology-oriented than the overall U.S. population.
Additionally, those who obtained coverage through the Affordable Care Act were more likely to book checkups than those enrolled via Medicaid or those who paid cash.
Those with ACA plans appear to be more aware that such services exist, while those with non-ACA plans were less likely to take advantage of free preventive services, according to the data.
"The question is whether, over time, preventive care visits lead to more use of specialists," Elizabeth Carpenter, director of the healthcare reform practice at Avalere Health, told Reuters. "Obviously, the more individuals seek preventive care and screenings the more likely they are to be referred to a specialist."
The data aligns with recent numbers that found the number of adults who did not seek care due to cost-related issues declined from 43 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2014, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
Free preventive screenings under the ACA do have a hidden drawback, however. Covering all preventive tests leads to higher utilization but also higher costs for insurers, which removes the incentive for such services to be competitively priced.
- here's the Reuters article