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Decline shown in access to health care; Lack of insurance cited over decade

The ability of adults, especially the uninsured, to obtain basic health services has declined in nearly every state, including New York, over the last decade, according to a report released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Researchers at the Urban Institute examined three indicators: having unmet medical needs as as a result of costs, having a routine checkup, and having a dental visit during the year.

They found a decline in all three measures between 2000 and 2010. Nationally, the share of adults experiencing unmet medical needs due to cost rose by 6 percentage points, to 18.7 percent, affecting nearly 1 in 5 adults ages 19 to 64, according to the report.

The share of adults receiving routine checkups fell in 37 states, and the share of adults who had dental visits declined in 29 states, the researchers reported.

For New York, the report shows that:

*Adults with unmet medical needs due to cost increased by 5 percentage points, to 15.5 percent, or about 1.8 million people.

*Adults who had a routine checkup decreased by 9.6 percentage points. Uninsured adults were 37.1 percent less likely than insured adults to have had a routine checkup in 2010.

*Adults who had a dental visit decreased by 3 percentage points. Uninsured adults were 30.5 percent less likely than insured adults to have had a dental visit.

"This report is sobering because it demonstrates how profoundly a lack of insurance translates into a lack of medical care," Dr. John R. Lumpkin, senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group at the Princeton, N.J.-based foundation, said in a statement.

The foundation used the report to make a case for the Affordable Care Act, saying the new federal law would "go a long way toward helping the uninsured access needed care."

email: hdavis@buffnews.com