Kentucky’s Medicaid Expansion Yields Coverage and Access to Important Preventive Care - Families Usa Skip to Main Content

Kentucky’s Medicaid Expansion Yields Coverage and Access to Important Preventive Care

By Andrea Callow,


Two recent reports illustrate how residents of Kentucky are benefiting from Medicaid expansion. The state experienced one of the largest drops in its uninsured rate in the country and a substantial increase in Medicaid enrollees’ use of preventive health care.

Last week’s Gallup poll indicates that states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act saw larger decreases in their uninsured rates than states that did not. This coverage means access to care, which includes preventive services that help keep people healthy and health care costs low.

Kentucky’s uninsured rate falls to 9 percent

Overall, the Gallup survey found that states that adopted Medicaid expansion and their own insurance exchange saw on average a 7.1 percentage point reduction in their uninsured populations, while states that adopted just one or none of those provisions saw average reductions of 5.3 percentage points. According to the poll, Kentucky saw the second largest reduction in the country, with the state’s uninsured rates falling by 11 percentage points over the past two years to its present rate of 9 percent.

Medicaid expansion associated with spike in use of preventive health care services

Data from the Kentucky Medicaid department show that those with Medicaid are using their health insurance to get important preventive care services. As we wrote back in October, early data from the state showed a significant uptick in use of preventive health care. That trend has continued through the end of the state fiscal year.

A snapshot of Kentucky’s increased preventive care screenings from fiscal year 2014

In state fiscal year 2014 (July, 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014), compared with 2013:

  • Breast cancer screenings increased 111 percent
  • Cervical cancer screenings increased 88 percent
  • Colon cancer screenings increased 108 percent
  • Adult dental visits increased 116 percent
  • Physical exams increased 187 percent

These measures make a difference. Preventive care services prolong life expectancy and reduce rates of disability. For adults, breastcervical, and colorectal cancer are some of the leading causes of death in the nation. However, with early detection, the five-year survival rate for these cancers is between 90 and 100 percent.

The 116 percent increase in dental visits shows Kentucky is on its way to improving access to dental care and ensuring that its residents can live productive lives free of oral pain and discomfort. Poor dental health results in decreased worker productivity. And dental disease negatively affects an individual’s ability to eat healthy food and communicate at work and home.

The 187 percent increase in physical exams promises to help Kentucky in its battle against diabetes. Regular physical exams allow Kentuckians to get necessary screenings for diabetes and get on an appropriate treatment regimen before the disease advances, takes a greater toll on the individual, and becomes more expensive to treat.

Medicaid expansion is a critical factor in improving long-term health outcomes

These data indicate Kentucky is on the path to improving long-term outcomes, and Medicaid expansion is a key part of that. We will continue analyzing preventive care data as they come in from other Medicaid expansion states. We expect similar increases in screening services, routine preventive care, and check-ups.