Local clinics see shift in patient statistics

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More patients insured through Affordable Care Act

With insurance policies through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion taking effect on Jan. 1, local clinics have seen changes in the number of insured patients coming in for care.

According to a Commonwealth Fund report in July, an additional 9.5 million people ages 19-64 had obtained health insurance, and Gallup has reported the uninsured rate among adults has dropped from 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to 13.4 percent in second quarter of 2014.

Sonya Kullman, senior media relations specialist with Mercy Hospital, said the Mercy clinic in Cassville has seen 38 of its patients now with Affordable Care Act insurance policies. She said the clinic sees about 100 patients per day.

"Dr. [Jaime] Zengotita has 24, and Dr. [Connie] Butler has 14," she said. "Most of these are new patients, and they all have a coverage plan under the Affordable Care Act."

Mercy is also expanding its services in Cassville, as it recently hired two new family nurse practitioners, which will allow the clinic to take new patients again.

The new hires include Amanda Gibbons, formerly of Bismark, Mo., and Josh Merriman, a graduate of Diamond High School.

Debra Davidson, CEO of Access Family Care, said the Access clinic in Cassville has seen a shift in the number of insured patients as well.

"We see new patients all the time, so I'm not sure if the shift is because of the marketplace or if people are just learning about us," she said. "But, across the organization, we are seeing more of a shift to insured from uninsured."

Davidson said the Access Family Care Clinic in Cassville serves about 500 patients each month, and in October 2013, 39 percent of patients were uninsured. As of May, that number has fallen to 32 percent. Likewise, the percentage of insured patients has risen from 15 percent in October 2013 to 21 percent in May.

"That shift is about equal, and those with Medicaid are our largest population of patients, but we also have a large Medicare population in Cassville as well," Davidson said. "Even though Missouri did not expand Medicaid, some are now learning their children may qualify, even though they may not."

Officials at the Heritage Medical Clinic in Cassville declined to comment on this report.

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