No Link Between More Primary Care, Outcome

LEBANON, N.H., Sept. 9 (UPI) — Having access to a primary care physician is no guarantee a patient will get recommended care or get better outcomes, U.S. researchers find.

Lead author Dr. David C. Goodman says the study analyzed the fee-for-service Medicare population from 2003 to 2007.


“Our findings suggest that the nation’s primary care deficit won’t be solved by simply increasing access to primary care, either by boosting the number of primary care physicians or better insurance coverage,” Goodman says in a statement.

During the study period, 77.6 percent of beneficiaries had an annual visit to a primary care clinician but patients’ chances of an annual primary care visit varied widely. Sixty percent of Medicare beneficiaries in the Bronx and Manhattan, N.Y., had one primary care visit per year, but 90 percent in Wilmington, N.C., and Florence, S.C., did.

On average, about 70 percent of African-Americans had at least one annual primary care visit, compared with 78.1 percent for whites, but in some areas, the opposite is true. In Waterloo, Iowa, 88.7 percent of blacks had an annual primary care visit, compared to 86.5 percent of whites, but in Olympia, Wash., 42.9 percent of blacks had an annual primary care visit, while 79.8 percent of whites did.

Rates of leg amputation — a complication of diabetes — had no relationship with having at least one annual visit with a primary care clinician, but geography did — ranging from 0.33 per 1,000 beneficiaries in Provo, Utah, to 3.29 per 1,000 in McAllen, Texas.

The study is at www.dartmouthatlas.org.

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