HHS: Medicaid expansion helped lower ACA premiums by 7%
- States that expanded Medicaid experienced lower ACA marketplace premiums by about 7% compared to non-expansion states, according to research released Thursday by HHS.
- Currently 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid (though one is trying to stir up the pot with an overhaul) under the ACA. If the remaining 19 states expanded Medicaid, more than 4 million people would gain coverage, HHS stated.
- The analysis used 2015 data on HealthCare.gov plans and enrollment to assess how Medicaid expansion affects marketplace premiums.
This is the second communique from HHS this week trying to calm fears over the media-darling-with-a-question-mark ACA insurance market. On Wednesday, HHS said most HealthCare.gov consumers will still be able to buy coverage for less than $75 per month next year, just as in 2016.
And it's no surprise why. Last week was an important terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for the exchanges when Aetna announced it would leave most of the insurance marketplaces. That action resulted in most of the leading national health insurers standing together in an agreed exit. The move caused many in the industry to debate what can be done to save the ACA and if it would be saved at all.
HHS said in a prepared statement it's "been clear" going against Medicaid expansion is costly in part by denying individuals coverage who have low income, many of which have serious healthcare needs. "By rejecting Medicaid expansion, states give up billions in economic benefits," the agency said.
One question to ponder would be if more states would expand, would there be a greater percentage of healthy or sicker patients entering into the markets. Thus far, sicker-than-expected populations have entered the market rather than the young and healthy go-hards, who are needed to help stabilize the individual marketplaces.
Though HHS' analysis helps makes the case for expansion. Recent data published in JAMA Internal Medicine found Medicaid expansion was associated with improved quality of care and health outcomes among low-income U.S. adults, a 22.7 percentage-point reduction in the uninsured rate, and increased access to healthcare services.
Follow Jeff Byers on Twitter