Most primary care physicians in the state see patients who receive health care coverage from one of three payer sources—Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance. For children under the age of 19, the largest payer is by far Medicaid. Adults aged 19–64 are predominantly covered by commercial insurance and adults 65+ are usually covered by Medicare. Physicians in rural areas are more reliant on patients with public payer sources than on patients with commercial insurance. Given this, it does not appear that patients with public payer sources of health care will experience barriers to accessing health care by physicians selectively taking private insurance in rural areas; however, this will depend on rural physician response to greater numbers of individuals with private paying sources due to expanded coverage.
This issue brief answers the following questions: Does Arkansas have enough primary care providers for our citizens in all parts of the state now? Will we have enough to meet future demand? What are the dominate payer sources for health care coverage in Arkansas? Will physicians restrict access by payer source or accept only privately insured patients, particularly in rural areas, to the detriment of patients with public payer sources?