Healthcare Business News

New Medicaid beneficiaries healthier than those in program before ACA

By Virgil Dickson
Posted: March 26, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET

Beneficiaries who joined Medicaid as the result of expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are healthier than people who were part of the program before the law went into effect, according to a study appearing next month in Health Affairs.

The findings also hold true for consumers living in states not expanding Medicaid to people with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level under the ACA. Adults in the income range for the law's Medicaid expansion were healthier than pre-ACA enrollees, researchers found. To reach these findings, the authors used simulation methods and data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

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They compared nondisabled adults enrolled in Medicaid prior to the health reform law with two other groups: adults who were eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled in it, and adults who were in the income range for the ACA's Medicaid expansion and thus newly eligible for coverage.

The findings will hopefully make the 24 states that have yet to expand Medicaid realize that increasing the number of people in the program may not be as costly or as burdensome on providers as they thought, the study authors suggest.

“By electing to expand Medicaid eligibility, states could provide coverage to millions of healthier adults as well as to millions who have chronic conditions and who need care,” according to the study.

Follow Virgil Dickson on Twitter: @MHvdickson

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