Medicaid enrollment increases access to, quality of care

While debate still rages in many states about the prospect of expanding Medicaid, a new study indicates that the program improves the healthcare experience for many Americans.

A Commonwealth Fund survey found care for people ages 19-64 who were enrolled in Medicaid all year was on par with patients who had consistent private insurance. Care for both groups outperformed that of people who were uninsured at some point during the year.

For example, 95 percent of those covered by Medicaid all year and 94 percent of privately insured patients reported having a regular source of care. But only 77 percent of those who were uninsured at some point in 2014 had a regular source of care.

Privately insured and Medicaid patients were more likely to receive preventive care services such as flu shots and blood pressure tests and to have a doctor who knew their medical history. They were also more likely to rate their care quality as "excellent" or "very good" and said they received timely appointments and medical advice.

From a financial perspective, Medicaid patients actually fared better than both their uninsured and privately insured counterparts. Only 10 percent of those insured through Medicaid had trouble or were unable to pay their medical bills, while 21 percent of privately insured people and 35 percent of uninsured people said the same.

"This last observation may reflect the steady increase in recent years in many private plans' deductibles and copayments," the study concludes.

To learn more:
- check out the study

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