Residents in Medicaid-expansion states more likely to maintain baseline health, study finds

Even with access to an established safety-net health system, low-income adults in Southern states that expanded Medicaid saw higher health benefits than residents of states that didn't expand the federal health insurance program, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

For the study, researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., analyzed data from the Southern Community Cohort Study, which includes 12 states. The data represents more than 15,000 nonelderly low-income adults, with 86 percent of them enrolled in a community health center.

Researchers compared changes in health reported by the participants in four states that expanded Medicaid and eight that hadn't, both before (2008-13) and after (2015-17) program expansions. In expansion states, they found a lower proportion of participants said their health status declined, and a higher proportion maintained baseline health. 

"Our results suggest that for low-income adults in the South, Medicaid expansion yielded health benefits — even for those with established access to safety-net care," the researchers said. "These findings suggest that access to safety-net providers in southern states is an inadequate substitute for insurance."

Read the full study here.

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