Medicaid expansion gives providers immediate relief from uninsured care

Within six months of expanding Medicaid services, states experienced a 50 percent drop in care administered to those without health insurance, according to study from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).

The study examined hospital discharge information from a sample of Medicaid expansion states. Overall, uninsured patients' stays decreased 50 percent in expansion states in the first six months of expanded coverage. Insured patient stays increased by 20 percent.

For states that chose not to expand Medicaid, hospitals experienced the same or slightly higher demands for care from uninsured populations, the study found.  

"In expansion states, we see exactly what we would expect to happen after Medicaid became available to more people," said Sayeh Nikpay, MD, MPH, lead author of the study. "Even in these early months, the shift from uninsured to Medicaid contrasts sharply with the steady demand for uninsured care in non-expansion states. This has implications for the financial status of hospitals."

M-U authors believe their findings are significant for those states currently considering Medicaid expansion. Kentucky is currently mulling over a scaled-back Medicaid expansion plan and many other states are evaluating whether to continue offering expanded services.  

M-U researchers used statistics from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's HCUP fast stats program. The study will be published in the January issue of Health Affairs.

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