Americans with Medicaid plans have far better access to healthcare and preventive services than those who are uninsured, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said in a new study.
The report found that adult Medicaid enrollees were nearly five times more likely and children four times more likely to have a “consistent source of healthcare” than those who are uninsured.
The study comes as states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are considering whether to broaden the program to more people. Virginia is reportedly close to becoming the 34th state to expand Medicaid, while Maine Gov. Paul LePage missed a deadline to present an expansion plan to CMS this month.
The study analyzed people covered by Medicaid, a commercial health plan and those uninsured. AHIP said more than 70% of the over 75 million people on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) plan have a private health plan. Researchers compared access to care and preventive services for the three groups.
In addition to more consistent access to healthcare, adults in Medicaid were more than four times more likely and children were two-to-three times more likely to receive preventive care services than uninsured Americans.
Most adults with a commercial health plan or with a private Medicaid plan had better access to care and preventive services than uninsured people.
Rhys Jones, AHIP vice president of Medicaid policy and advocacy, said the report confirms that Medicaid “is an important part of America’s safety net and optimizes the use of every dollar invested into the program to ensure those who need help the most get the care they need.”
The AHIP study comes as more states are looking at Medicaid expansion. A total of 33 states have expanded Medicaid to more people. Though many Republican-leaning states haven’t expanded the program, some are now showing interest, especially after the Trump administration’s support of work requirements.
Backers of work requirements like those granted in Kentucky and Arkansas hope the policy will both lower the Medicaid rolls and get more people into the workforce. Opponents point out that most beneficiaries are already in working families, and say red tape will keep out those who should qualify.
Virginia is seen as the next state that may approve an expansion. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, supports expanding the program and his party picked up seats in the legislature last year.
Maine voters also approved Medicaid expansion last year, but Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, has refused to implement the expansion unless the legislature finds funding without raising taxes or dipping into reserves. Maine Democrats have threatened to sue if the governor blocks Medicaid expansion. The state missed a federal deadline last week to present a plan as to how it would cover 70,000 more people who are expected to get coverage through expansion.
States that chip away at Medicaid will be a negative for hospitals. The industry benefited from the expansion, as fewer patients came in without health insurance.
A recent Cowen Washington Research Group report predicted a tough 2018 for hospitals, citing work requirements, higher premiums and copays, and removing the 90-day look-back provision that requires coverage for people 90 days before Medicaid coverage could cut the number of people with Medicaid.
That, in turn, could increase the number of uninsured, which could increase bad debt and uncompensated care for hospitals.
At the same time, efforts in left-leaning states to implement their own individual mandate have stalled. As part of the approved tax package, the Republican-led Congress killed the individual mandate penalty in 2019. Despite Democratic efforts at the state level, no state has added its own individual mandate yet.