Here’s a positive trend stemming from Healthcare Reform legislation: In states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, low-income adults were more likely to see a doctor, stay overnight in a hospital and receive their first diagnoses of diabetes and high cholesterol, according to a study published by Kaiser Health News.
Patient responsibility has become an essential component of healthcare reform—and of battling these chronic medical conditions. According to the Kaiser study, people who were diagnosed with diabetes rose from 8.3 percent before Medicaid expansion to nearly 13 percent after expansion. In non–expansion states, the diabetes diagnosis dropped slightly.
“The results provide compelling evidence that states that expanded Medicaid did a very, very good thing for their citizens, because those who got coverage are now more likely to get medically necessary care when they need it,” said Vernon Smith, a Medicaid expert and principal with consulting firm Health Management Associates.
Medicaid enrollment has risen past 70 million people since states began expanding the program in 2014 using federal funding. Medicaid rolls have grown by more than 14 million people in that time. Opponents of expansion have cited many reasons why states should not expand the program including fiscal concerns and doubts about Medicaid’s effectiveness in improving health to the poor.
While fiscal concern is certainly warranted, greater use of health services among low-income adults is clearly paying dividends, and will continue to do so in the future. The increased detection of chronic health conditions under the Medicaid expansions could have important implications for both population health and national healthcare spending if it leads to improved management and control of these conditions.
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