Medicaid is on the rise thanks to an expansion that gives more people access to the program. A study shows expanded programs brought about lower rates of physical health decline. Harvard Medical School and Vanderbilt University collaborated on this research. The idea of the study was to capture the effect of boosting access for low-income populations. Individuals from 12 states were polled, naturally, their responses yielded mixed results.
The study found that post-expansion, the amount of Medicaid-insured adults went up by 7.6%. This was a comparison to states that did not participate in the expansion. Researchers came to the conclusion that almost 38% of adults would suffer from declining health without better access to Medicaid. Post-expansion, reports of declining health lowered significantly. In fact, most people reported they better maintained their health. While these achievements may seem minuscule, they matter on a grander scale. The study was able to focus on “the most vulnerable populations who stand to gain the most” from access to health care. This is the first study to shed light on evidence of the health effects of expanded Medicaid access. Perhaps the greatest benefit is the 8,000 people still alive following overdoses. The research found that expansion states saw 6% fewer overdoses than non-expansion states. Heroin-related deaths dropped by 11% while fentanyl- and the like-related deaths dropped by 10%. If used properly, Medicaid can be beneficial for many people.
Medicaid is on the rise despite conflicting evidence over whether expansion could really improve our population’s health. The downfall to Medicaid is prescription methadone, its common use in treating opioid addiction. However, for Medicaid recipients, it’s normally prescribed for pain. One study noticed a rise in deaths caused by methadone, which causes some to think twice about expansion. Still, studies suggest that those states that have not expanded could benefit from doing so.
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