From 2011-2017, perceptions of healthcare in New Mexico have been impacted at a variety of levels.
Consider these milestones at the Federal and State level.
2010 inaugurated the Affordable Care Act (or ACA), also known as Obamacare.
In 2013, the New Mexico Human Services Department halted funding to 15 behavioral health providers in response to allegations of Medicaid fraud this resulted in coverage interruptions for 30,000 of the state’s most vulnerable residents.
Also in 2013, the New Mexico Healthcare Exchange was created by state law to help residents get affordable health care coverage.
In 2014 the Veterans Health Administration was embroiled in a scandal where allegations of negligence were reported in the treatment of United States military veterans.
As if 2013 didn’t have enough activity, New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez expanded healthcare coverage, through the ACA, to include recipients of Medicaid. The expansion provided coverage for residents with household incomes up to 138 percent of the Federal poverty level.
And according to US Census data, the uninsured rate in New Mexico fell from 18.6 percent in 2013 to 9.2 percent in 2016 — a drop of more than 50 percent, versus the national average drop of a little more than 40 percent.
A 2015 report issued by the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center shows that New Mexico only has “nineteen hundred” primary care physicians. When compared to the State’s population, at the time, that equaled one primary care physician for every “thousand ninety-nine” New Mexicans in the state.
Politically, in 2016, a unique political showdown developed between the legislature, Attorney General, State Auditor and Office of the Superintendent of Insurance. At the center of the issue, the release of an audit claiming the Insurance Superintendent failed to collect nearly $200 million in taxes from insurance companies.
The seven-year period also included new hospital construction and improvements as well as the creation of and merger of various insurance and medical groups.
Despite the changes, New Mexico residents are generally consistent in how they feel about the medical system. Favorability, hovers just below the 50 percent mark with the most fluctuation occurring in 2013 when it dropped from 49 percent to 46 percent. Over the past seven years, the medical system has averaged 47 percent favorability among New Mexico residents.
Geographically, residents in the Albuquerque area are the most consistent and generally have the highest levels of trust and favorability regarding doctors and the medical system. Residents in the Northwest have the largest swings in favorability of the medical system with a low of 45 percent in 2015 and high of 75 percent in 2016. Trust of doctors also saw some extreme swings in North Central New Mexico with a 39 percent favorability in 2014 followed by 70 percent favorability in 2015.
Interestingly, the oldest and youngest residents have the highest level of trust in physicians. The youngest (18-34 years of age), typically the lightest users of insurance and healthcare, have an average 66 percent trust of physicians compared to residents over the age of 65 years, the most frequent users of insurance and health care, who have a 69 percent average of trust in doctors.
More information and analysis of this information is available online at http://www.garrityperceptionsurvey.com.