Medicaid expansion in 19 states could cut $8B from cost of treating uninsured patients

Hospitals' uncompensated care costs attributed to treating uninsured patients would decrease if the 19 states that haven't expanded Medicaid did so next year, according to a study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute.

For the study, researchers used the Health Insurance Policy Simulation model to estimate how Medicaid expansion would affect current nonexpansion states if they expanded Medicaid in 2019, based on the effects on current expansion states. Nonexpansion states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Here are three study findings.

1. The study estimates there would be 4.5 million more insured people in those states if the states expanded Medicaid in 2019. This would result in a 4.3 percent drop in the uninsured rate in the 19 states, from 16.9 to 12.6 percent, researchers said. The national uninsured rate would be expected to drop from 12.5 to 10.5 percent.

2. A total of 6.6 million uninsured people in the U.S. would be eligible for but not enrolled in Medicaid if nonexpansion states expanded in 2019, according to the study, and 6.1 million uninsured people would qualify for ACA marketplace premium tax credits.

3. As far as uncompensated care costs, the study estimated those costs attributed to treating uninsured people would decrease by $8 billion if the 19 states expanded Medicaid next year. Of the estimated $8 billion in total savings, providers would potentially save $2.8 billion. Federal, state and local governments would also potentially save on uncompensated care costs.

Read the full study here.


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