November 12, 2017

THANKS, UR:

Medicaid Expansion Takes A Bite Out Of Medical Debt (ALEX SMITH, 11/10/17, NPR)

Researchers Aaron Sojourner and Ezra Golbertstein of the University of Minnesota studied financial data from 2012 to 2015 for people who would be eligible for Medicaid where it was expanded.

They found that in states that didn't expand, the percentage of low-income, nonelderly adults with unpaid medical bills dropped from 47 to 40 percent within three years.

"The economy improved and maybe other components of the ACA contributed to a 7 percentage point reduction," Sojourner says. "Where they did expand Medicaid, it fell by almost twice as much."

Those states saw an average drop of 13 percentage points, from 43 to 30 percent.

In Kansas, the rate of medical debt for nonelderly adults fell by 4 percentage points to 27 percent. In Missouri, the rate dropped 4 points to 31 percent, according to the Urban Institute. In Maine, it dropped only 1.4 percentage points between 2012 and 2015.

Medicaid, as opposed to private insurance, is the key, says The Urban Institute's Kyle Caswell, because it requires little out-of-pocket costs.

Even if Medicaid patients need lots of care, there aren't on the hook for big out-of-pocket costs in the same way someone with private insurance might be.

"We would certainly expect that their risk to out-of-pocket expenses to be much lower, and ultimately the risk of unpaid bills to ultimately be also lower," Caswell says.

Posted by at November 12, 2017 5:51 PM

  

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