LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A larger number of Kentucky adults indicate that they don’t use a regular doctor, health clinic or other appropriate source of health care, but that hasn’t necessarily translated into more visits to inappropriate sources such as emergency room or urgent care clinic visits, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) report.
The report found that, in late 2018, 24 percent of Kentucky adults said they do not have a usual place to go for health care, compared to 18 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, about 8 percent of Kentucky adults say they go to the emergency room or an urgent care center when they need medical care, a figure that has remained steady since 2009, when KHIP first posed these questions.
Kentucky adults without health insurance were nearly twice as likely to lack a usual source of health care as those with coverage, the KHIP report found.
“Going to the same place for medical care – a place that knows you and your medical history – is key to maintaining good health and preventing chronic disease,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “You’re more likely to have regular wellness visits, immunizations and health screenings and to avoid dangerous medication interactions and preventable hospital admissions when you have both health insurance and a regular care provider. The fact that those living on low incomes are less likely to have either of these is another example of how poverty often leads to poorer health.”
The report also found that about one in five Kentucky adults say someone in their household has delayed or skipped needed medical care because of cost. That figure was about the same in 2014, although it had dropped from about one in three in 2009. Adults living on lower incomes are more likely to forgo care: One in four earning 200 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines delayed or skipped needed medical care in 2018, down from nearly one in two in 2009.
“The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in Kentucky significantly reduced the percentage of uninsured Kentuckians, but many still struggle with other cost barriers,” Chandler said. “We need to find a way to bridge those gaps to improve health and to reduce the higher health care costs that result when we delay or forgo essential and preventive care.”
The full KHIP report is available here.