Ready Or Not, 60K More Patients Entering Lexington's Medical Market

Nov 13, 2013

A veteran in public health care predicts a logjam when newly insured Kentuckians try to see a doctor.  The Commonwealth has made national news in providing coverage to uninsured Kentuckians.  Tens of thousands have signed up on-line and in just a couple months, they may hope to see a doctor.  However, Fayette County Health Department Commissioner Rice Leach says making an appointment could be a challenge.

“We’re gonna, in Lexington, enroll somewhere between 30 and 60 thousand people who are currently uninsured and the health care delivery system in Lexington is not ready to take on an additional 60 people over, say, the next six to 12 months,” said Leach.

Leach says many practices won’t take any more patients and others limit the number of Medicaid patients they will accept.  As a result, he says elective procedures could take a back seat to more urgent medical matters.

“If someone’s got low payment insurance and they’ve got a lymphoma like I did two years, three years ago, they’ll get taken care of.  But, if they need a knee job, like my wife did three years ago, they may have a hard time finding that,” added Leach.

Despite the challenges facing officials as they implement the Affordable Care Act, Leach remains optimistic.

“I think that kind of dislocation is possible, but collapse, nah, nobody can stand to be accused of creating the collapse of the system,” said explained Leach.

Leach has an extensive career in public health.  He says he began in the 1960s when Medicare was launched.  Later, he served as Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner.  The effort to enroll Kentuckians in health insurance plans continues.  Such an opportunity takes place today (Thursday) evening at the Fayette County Cooperative Extension Office