Study: Medicaid Increases Access to Care, Improves Health

Expanding Medicaid to low-income uninsured adults increases their use of inpatient, outpatient and preventive care, raises their reported health status and reduces unpaid medical bills, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. In the first controlled study to evaluate the impact of insuring the nation’s uninsured, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NBER and Providence Health & Services found the expansion of Medicaid coverage to low-income adults in Oregon increased their likelihood of using outpatient care by 35%, using prescription drugs by 15% and being admitted to the hospital by 30%, but did not seem to affect emergency department use.

Health insurance also was found to increase the use of recommended preventive care, such as mammograms by 60% and cholesterol monitoring by 20%; increase the probability that people report themselves in good-to-excellent health by 25%; and decrease unpaid medical bills and financial strain on patients. In 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will expand Medicaid to cover additional low-income adults.

07-18-2011 09:51 (EDT)