The US uninsurance rate has nearly been cut in half under the Affordable Care Act, and access to care has improved for the newly insured, but less is known about how the remaining uninsured have fared. In 2012-13 and again in 2016 we conducted an experiment in which trained auditors called primary care offices, including federally qualified health centers, in ten states. The auditors portrayed uninsured patients seeking appointments and information on the cost of care and payment arrangements. In both time periods, about 80 percent of uninsured callers received appointments, provided they could pay the full cash amount. However, fewer than one in seven callers in both time periods received appointments for which they could make a payment arrangement to bring less than the full amount to the visit. Visit prices in both time periods averaged about $160. Trends were largely similar across states, despite their varying changes in the uninsurance rate. Federally qualified health centers provided the highest rates of primary care appointment availability and discounts for uninsured low-income patients.
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