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Medicaid Survey Results Show Recipients Are Satisfied

April 18, 2005

Bismarck, N.D. - Survey results show that North Dakota Medicaid recipients have a high level of satisfaction with the Medicaid program, eligibility processes, and the services they receive. In the 2004 survey, 76 percent of the respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the Medicaid program.

“This survey is a snapshot in time of our performance,” said David Zentner, Medicaid Director for the North Dakota Department of Human Services. “It shows that the North Dakota Medicaid program does a good job of meeting the unique needs of program participants.”

Zentner said 3,213 adult Medicaid clients were randomly surveyed. The state and federally funded program provides health coverage services to an average of 52,400 North Dakotans per month. Many Medicaid participants have low incomes and over half are younger than 21 years of age.

Survey Result Highlights:

Establishing a “medical home” by developing individual patient-doctor relationships and promoting clinic-based care rather than emergency room utilization has long been considered crucial to curtailing health care costs. Most survey respondents (87.6 percent) claimed one person as their personal doctor, whom they see for medical needs most of the time.

Over half of the respondents (56.5 percent) reported that they had not been to a hospital emergency room during the past year. Of those who did seek emergency room care, most went to the emergency room for what they perceived to be emergency conditions, or because it was after regular clinic operating hours.

Eighty-one percent of the survey respondents reported that they did not have a difficult time getting a referral to specialists for care.

The survey asked several questions related to prescription drugs. Prescription costs, along with inpatient hospitalizations and long-term care expenditures, drive most of the growth in North Dakota’s Medicaid budget. Eight in 10 of the individuals who completed the Medicaid survey reported that they did not request specific prescription drugs from their physicians. Seven in 10 indicated that they thought generic medications were as effective as brand-name medications, while 20 percent thought brand-name medications were more effective.

Following the 2003 Legislative Session, the state Medicaid program implemented some cost-sharing measures including co-payments for a few select services. Almost 10 percent of the respondents from the Women, Family and Children Coverage Group in Medicaid reported that co-payments, deductibles, or recipient liability prevented them from accessing medical care when they needed it.

Dental access appears to be improving. In 2002, 30.1 percent of the survey respondents reported having trouble getting needed dental care; this fell to 24.1 percent in 2004. Of those individuals, half reported experiencing trouble finding a dentist who took Medicaid patients. When asked if they had ever missed a dental appointment for any reason, 14.2 percent acknowledged that they had.

Respondents ranked services provided by health care providers, including services related to mental health or substance abuse needs, high. Eight in 10 reported receiving mental health or substance abuse services within the past year.

Almost 85 percent of respondents reported that it was easy to apply for Medicaid. Ninety-four percent said the application assistance they received from eligibility workers at the county social service offices was useful.

“We appreciate the quality work that the county social services offices provide,” Zentner said. “We will continue to explore ways to simplify the eligibility process.”

The Department of Human Services surveyed adults from three of the program’s eligibility groups: women, children, and families; blind and disabled individuals; and the elderly. Institutionalized individuals including those residing in nursing homes, the State Hospital, or the Developmental Center were excluded from the survey. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percent.

2004 Customer Survey details are at www.nd.gov/dhs/info/pubs/medical.html.


David Zentner, Medicaid Director, 701-328-232


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