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Monday, September 17, 2012

Medicaid Is Good Care

Sascha Murillo

Staff Writer

As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act , states have found themselves in the position of deciding whether or not to expand their Medicaid programs. Right now, some states have said “yes” to expansion. In a few, like Texas and Florida, the governors have said “no.” In most, governors and legislatures are weighing the option.

There are many reasons  for states to expand Medicaid, but I’m going to focus on just one right now: good care. For starters, people in Medicaid like the care that they get! More than half of adults (54%) with Medicaid rate their health plan highly. That’s compared to just over a third of adults (39%) with commercial insurance.

Consumer satisfaction is important, but even more important is the fact that Medicaid actually improves the health of the people it covers. A study in Oregon has found low-income adults eligible for Medicaid were far better off than those who remained uninsured. Medicaid recipients were more likely to report that they were in good health, and they were less likely to say their health had declined over the past six months. Medicaid also improved people’s economic well being. Those with Medicaid reported fewer unpaid medical bills. People with Medicaid were even less likely to have depression than their uninsured counterparts.

These findings have been echoed by researchers at Harvard, who recently published a study finding that Medicaid coverage was associated with reduced mortality.

Both studies found that Medicaid improves access to care: People with Medicaid are more likely to have a regular source of care than those without insurance.

States that decide to expand Medicaid will be taking a step that will improve the health, well-being, and financial security of many of their citizens. It would also mean a healthier and more productive workforce. States that take a careful look at what their citizens stand to gain, should say "yes" to expansion.