The big question people are asking is whether Medicaid is helping people or not. States were given the option of expanding the Medicaid program or keeping as it was. Studies have shown that with the implementation of the Medicaid expansion, people are more likely to have routine visits to the doctor where they receive preventative services, cancer screenings, and vaccines.
It’s difficult to measure, but a group of researchers are trying to find out if the Medicaid expansion is causing people to become healthier. They conducted a three year experiment that asked low-income people in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas about their health. Arkansas and Kentucky expanded their Medicaid program to people below a certain income threshold while Texas did not expand. The people in Arkansas and Kentucky appear to be healthier.
The researchers gathered their information by a large telephone survey of the low-income residents of the three states. They asked the same question each year from 2013 to 2015. They used Texas as a control group and compared what had happened between the states.
The survey conveyed that the people in Arkansas and Kentucky were five percent more likely to say they were in excellent health than the people in Texas in 2015.
Of course, no two states are exactly the same, so these results can’t prove that the Medicaid expansion has made people healthier. But the survey has shown that people in the Medicaid expansion states were more likely to have a regular doctor, to have a place to go for care, have their chronic disease treated, and to have screenings for high cholesterol and blood sugar. They were also more likely to have screenings for heart disease and diabetes.
While these results look promising, it will take more time and more research in order to truly know if the Affordable Care Act is making Americans healthier.