Study finds healthcare costs plunge with insurance coverage

A new study by researchers at the University of California at Irvine concludes that providing low-income people with medical insurance coverage eventually leads to a dramatic plunge in healthcare costs, reported the Huffington Post.

The study tracked the access of healthcare services of 26,000 residents of Richmond, Va., between 2000 and 2007 who lacked health insurance and had incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Once offered coverage with a primary care provider as a gatekeeper, their costs fell from nearly $8,900 in the first year they were insured down to $4,569 by the third year of their coverage.

"We found that use of primary care increased but use of emergency services fell, and--over time--total health care costs declined," David Neumark, one of the study's co-authors, said in a statement.

The residents were required to renew their health insurance annually, and according to the study's authors, "people without healthcare coverage make inappropriate use of health care services, such as excessive use of the emergency department and avoidable hospitalizations."

The study noted that those who gained coverage as part of the study are demographically similar to those who would receive healthcare coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act.

To learn more:
- read the Huffington Post article
- here's the study abstract
- read the UCI press release