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The Value Of Medicaid: Access To Care And Preventive Care Services

posted by AHIP

on April 9, 2018

Since its inception, the Medicaid program has been a pathway to improve the health and financial security of millions of Americans. Medicaid has proven to be a valuable and reliable source of access to health care for more than 74 million children and adults.

AHIP has completed a new study of public data, which analyzed access to care and provision of preventive services for nearly 40,000 people.

The findings show that adults and children with a Medicaid health plan had significantly better access to care and preventive services than people with no health coverage:

  • Adults were almost five times more likely, and children were four times more likely, to have a usual source of care than people with no health coverage.
  • Adults were more than four times more likely, and children were two to three times more likely, to receive certain preventive care services than people with no health insurance.

Figures 1 and 2 summarize the comparative results for people with Medicaid, commercial health coverage, and no insurance, for eight measures (adult) and five measures (children).

Overall, this analysis demonstrates a consistent pattern of strong, statistically significant relationships between insurance coverage―whether commercial or Medicaid―and access to care and preventive care services:

  • Across multiple measures, people with Medicaid coverage reported better access than people with no health insurance.
  • In no case did people without health coverage have better access to care or preventive care.
  • Adults and children enrolled in Medicaid health plans have access to care and preventive services at levels similar to those who have commercial health coverage.

These findings refute outdated, less rigorous studies that question the value of Medicaid, and add to the growing number of recent studies that demonstrate the value of having insurance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.

The findings are based on data in the 2013-2015 Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS). This national survey of households has been used for more than 20 years and is administered by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research. MEPS is the most complete source of public data on the cost and use of health care and health insurance coverage.

The analysis uses multivariate logistic regression models that control for a variety of factors such as race, ethnicity, age, gender, geography, and overall health status. This ensures an “apples to apples” comparison of populations so that the impacts of Medicaid coverage can be isolated. More detail about the methodology is described in the full study.

Figure 1: Adults with Commercial or Medicaid Health Plan Coverage Have Better Access to Care and Are More Likely to Receive Preventive Care Services Than Uninsured Adults

*Note:  Preventive care services performed at any time in the preceding 12-months

Adult Medicaid enrollees were 4½ times more likely than uninsured adults to have a usual source of care, and 2½ times more likely to always receive needed care and appointments. In addition, adult Medicaid enrollees had levels of access and preventive care similar to commercial enrollees on most measures.

Figure 2: Children with Commercial or Medicaid Health Plan Coverage Have Better Access to Care and Are More Likely to Receive Preventive Care Services Than Uninsured Children

*Note: Preventive care services performed at any time in the preceding 12-months

Children with Medicaid were 4 times more likely than uninsured children to have a usual source of care, and 2 to 3 times more likely to have had a blood pressure check, received nutrition and activity advice, or had a routine check-up within the past year. In addition, children with Medicaid had levels of access and preventive care similar to children with commercial coverage on most measures.