Americans more engaged in preventative care under ACA, study finds

More low-income Americans are engaging in preventative healthcare due to expanded health insurance coverage under the ACA, according to a new study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

For the study, researchers examined data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System telephone survey conducted by the CDC from 2014 through 2015. The study period coincides with the expansion of Medicaid in 30 states and the District of Columbia in 2014. Researchers compared survey results between residents in states that did and did not expand Medicaid under the health law.

Analysis revealed that low-income, childless adults were 17 percent more likely to have health insurance, 7 percent more likely to have a primary care physician and 11 percent less likely to report cost as an obstacle to care in states with ACA Medicaid expansion.

Additionally, survey respondents were more likely to engage in preventative care measures like influenza vaccination, getting tested for HIV and seeing a dentist.

"Our findings indicate that the Medicaid expansions under the ACA succeeded in some of their goals, but other goals remain hard to achieve," said Kosali Simon, PhD, a health economist at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington. "More people are seeing doctors and taking steps to safeguard their health. But there's been no detectable reduction in obesity, smoking or heavy drinking, at least through our study period."

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