Expanded Medicaid coverage could lead to reduced long-term healthcare costs.
A recent study found that states with expanded Medicaid had an increase in participants, improved quality, more frequent healthcare uses, and increased diagnoses of chronic health conditions.
In 2014, 26 states expanded their Medicaid program to include more than just adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level.
In a study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers evaluated changes in coverage, access to and utilization of medical care, and overall health in states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not.
Researchers analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey, including patients between 19 and 64 years of age, with family incomes of 138% less than the federal poverty level.
Specifically, researchers analyzed insurance coverage, coverage improvements from the previous year, hospitalizations, emergency department visits, skipped or delayed medical care, typical source of care, diagnoses of diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, self-reported health, and depression.
Researchers found that health insurance coverage increased by 7.4%, whileMedicaid coverage increased by 10.5%. Also, the quality of coverage increased 7.1%.
Visits to a general practitioner grew by 6.6% and overnight hospitalization increased 2.4%.
Also, diabetes diagnoses jumped 5.2% and cholesterol diagnoses increased 5.7%.
Researchers noted that since this is an observational survey, they cannot rule out other factors that may have influenced these changes.
Researchers also stated that they were only able to collect data from the first year of Medicaid expansion, so some healthcare aspects that were studied may take more time to develop.
"Fully understanding the experiences of low-income residents in the states that have already expanded coverage is a crucial input into the ongoing debate surrounding these expansions,” the study authors concluded.