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Research Shows Patients With Medicaid Have Greater Access To Preventive Care

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on May 29, 2019

The vast majority (around 80%) of Medicaid expansion enrollees are in Medicaid managed care plans

New research shows patients with a Medicaid plan have greater access to and have higher use of preventive health care services, such as screenings and immunizations.

For example, there were higher rates of cancer screening in states that expanded Medicaid than in those that did not, finds a new study from the American Cancer Society. Thanks to the increase in screening rates, more than 236,000 low-income adults were screened for colorectal cancer in 2016, according to the American Cancer Society.

Health insurance is a strong predictor of cancer screening,” study author Dr. Stacey A. Fedewa said in a statement, “and the uninsured and those with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be diagnosed at late stage and die from screen-detectable cancers, including colorectal cancer.

In states like California and Washington that expanded Medicaid within a year after the Affordable Care Act (ACA), preventive screening for colorectal cancer rose an average of nearly 9%, and a 5% increase for breast cancer screening. The 19 states that didn’t expand Medicaid saw screenings increase about 4% for each of cancer type.

Of those enrollees who gained access to Medicaid through ACA expansion, around 80% of them are enrolled in Medicaid managed care plans—a testament to the key role that private plans play in ensuring better health and better access to care. Medicaid managed care plans provide these preventive services at no cost to help patients stay healthy and catch health-related problems early to help avoid more serious and costly health problems.

A second related study found that having Medicaid coverage means better health for moms and babies. Researchers at Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that maternal mortality and infant mortality rates were significantly better in the 33 states that expanded Medicaid than in states that did not.

“The message of the study is clear. Medicaid expansion can protect the lives and help women and their babies, especially for women of color,” Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical officer of March of Dimes, which contributed to the report, told the Orlando Sentinel.

The benefits of having Medicaid managed care are evident across the country. In South Carolina, adults with diabetes who are enrolled in Medicaid health plans were more likely to receive consistent monitoring and support for their condition. And in Georgia, children enrolled in Medicaid health plans are more than twice as likely to experience six or more well-child visits during the first 15 months of life.

The fact is, Medicaid managed care is a valuable and reliable source of access to affordable, high-quality health care for millions of Americans. That’s because Americans who are enrolled in Medicaid have significantly better access to affordable health care and preventive services than people without coverage, high satisfaction with their coverage, and stronger financial security.