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Research Roundup: Studies Confirm That ACA, Medicaid Improve Health Care Access and Outcomes, Boost Local Economies

By April 12, 2018No Comments

Over the past month, five studies looking at the impact of the Affordable Care Act have been released: three analyzing Medicaid expansion, and two analyzing marketplace coverage. These studies covered a broad scope of health care-related outcomes, from treatment for chronic conditions to jobs created in a local economy, and each came to the same conclusion: the ACA is providing clear benefits for Americans.

Here’s a look at what these five studies found:

Louisiana Department of Health: Medicaid Expansion and the Louisiana Economy

A report released in April by the Louisiana Department of Health analyzed Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion, finding that expansion not only boosted the state’s economy but also save the state money, leaving Gov. John Bel Edwards to conclude, “It is costing us less to have more people insured.” Among its key takeaways:

  • The state saw a $1.85 billion economic impact due to Medicaid expansion, with Louisianans seeing $1.12 billion in personal earnings and local tax receipts totaling $746 million, with the economic impact “spread throughout the state.”
  • Louisiana saw 19,000 new jobs created under Medicaid expansion, making clear that “such healthcare can also positive affect the labor participation rate.”
  • Over 545,000 Louisianans have benefited under Medicaid expansion, including more than 180,000 Louisianans who visited a doctor and received new preventive services, more than 35,000 Louisianans who received breast cancer screenings, and more than 48,000 Louisianans who received mental health services.
  • Medicaid expansion saved the state $317 million, leading Gov. John Bel Edwards to note, “It was the easiest big decision I’ll ever make as governor.”
  • As the study’s authors concluded, the economic impact will continue “as long as the state maintains the program and as long as no major changes are instituted by the federal government, either through acts of the U.S. Congress or regulatory decisions made by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”

University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research: Medicaid Expansion Has Boosted State’s Economy, Added Jobs, Improved Health Care

A March study from the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research examined the effects of Montana’s Medicaid expansion, and found that it has not only provided insurance to more than 94,000 Montanans, but had a major impact on the state’s economy. Among its key takeaways:

  • Montana’s Medicaid expansion was responsible for creating 5,000 new jobs,  in the health care, retail, construction and hospitality industries, and $280 million of personal income.
  • Labor-force participation has increased six points, from 58 to 64 percent, among those eligible for Medicaid expansion, Montanans aged 18-64 and earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level .
  • Medicaid expansion has saved $40 million in Medicaid benefits, in addition to providing $902 million worth of health care services. “The savings are enough to pay for the costs,” said Bryce Ward of the BBER.
  • Medicaid expansion accounts for an estimated $564 million per year on health care spending, with nearly 70% of this being “new money,” or an economic boost spurred only by expansion.
  • As Sheila Hogan, director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services said, “Medicaid expansion is doing what it’s supposed to do, help Montanans live healthier lives and save the state money.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans: The Value of Medicaid: Providing Access to Care and Preventive Health Services

An April study from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) compared data from Americans covered by Medicaid, private insurance, and not covered, analyzing the access to care received under each, finding that Medicaid tremendously improves access to care. Among its key takeaways:

  • Adults (five-times as likely) and children (four-times) were significantly more likely to have access to “a usual source of care” than those without insurance.
  • Adults (four-times as likely) and children (two-to-three times) were significantly more likely to obtain preventative care than those without insurance.
  • Those enrolled in Medicaid had access to care at levels comparable to private coverage, and far better access to care than those without insurance.
  • As the authors concluded, “The findings from this study refute outdated, less rigorous studies that question the value of Medicaid, and add to the growing number of recent studies that demonstrate the value of having insurance coverage generally, and Medicaid more specifically.”

Health Affairs: Effects Of The ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplaces On The Previously Uninsured: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis

An April study published in Health Affairs, led by Harvard Medical School clinical fellow Anna Lise Goldman, MD, compared adults who had gone through periods without insurance to those with continuous coverage. It found that the ACA improved health care outcomes, especially among low-income adults. Among its key takeaways:

  • The introduction of the ACA saw the uninsured rate decrease by 11 percentage points and the number of of individuals unable to access necessary care fall by two points, as well as more outpatient visits, more prescriptions being filled, and a higher probability of a hospital stay.
  • Lower-income individuals, those with incomes of between 138 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level, saw even larger increases in the number of outpatient visits and prescriptions being filled.
  • As the study’s authors concluded, “The ACA led to a significant decline in the uninsurance rate, decreased barriers to medical care, increased the use of outpatient services and prescription drugs, and increased diagnosis of hypertension, compared to a control group with stable employer-sponsored insurance.”

Health Affairs: The Affordable Care Act’s Marketplaces Expanded Insurance Coverage For Adults With Chronic Health Conditions

An April study published in Health Affairs examined the role the ACA marketplace had on non-elderly adults with chronic conditions, finding that those far more Americans with chronic conditions obtained coverage through the marketplace. Among its key takeaways:

  • During the time period analyzed, 45% of marketplace enrollees aged 18-64 were treated for chronic conditions, compared to just 35% of those not enrolled in marketplace coverage and 38% of adults with employer insurance.
  • Those enrolled in marketplace coverage obtained more service use than those without it, underscoring the long-term benefits of the ACA.