A new study found out that overall kids visiting pediatricians in the United States dropped by 14% between the year 2008-2016, also sick visits decreased down by 24%. Opposite to this, well-child visits increased by 10%. Many reasons for this sudden change were pointed out by the researchers such as increasing out-of-pocket costs, the availability of urgent care clinics, and maybe even healthier kids.
During the Affordable Care Act’s debut in 2010, many major shifts in primary care were noticed. It was discovered that many preventive services, including well-child visits, are covered fully which means parents have no out-of-pocket costs for preventive care. However, sick-visits seemed to buck this trend since costs have simultaneously gone up for sick-visits. Deductibles, copays, and coinsurance may leave families paying more out of pocket.
Researchers found a decline in primary care and kids visiting pediatricians visits to general pediatric care for all groups of children. For that 1 year and younger the decline was lowest. Parents shifted to other options of care such as urgent care, retail clinics as well as telemedicine consults which accounted for about half of the decrease in pediatric sick visits, the study found. Another reason for the reduced need for sick visits is Vaccinations.
Perrin, a pediatrician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, said “My sense is that the Affordable Care Act did a number of really good and important things. Preventive care is essentially free, and it allows pediatricians and their office team to spend more time on preventive care, and to think more holistically about children’s health. Parents should make use of their preventive care benefits.”