Study finds widespread satisfaction with Medicaid coverage

Medicaid patients generally express satisfaction with their coverage, according to a new study from Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health.

The current political debate over healthcare reform has placed Medicaid squarely in the spotlight, with the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office predicting cuts of 35% to Medicaid spending by 2036 under the latest version of the bill working its way toward a Senate vote. Recent studies have focused on the link between Medicaid expansion and improved access to care, but Harvard researchers noted less focus on patient satisfaction with the system, so they took a look at results from the Medicaid Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System survey.

RELATED: New CBO analysis predicts 35% Medicaid spending cut by 2036 under Senate bill

Their analysis, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found an average satisfaction score of 7.9 on a 10-point scale, with 46% rating the program a nine or 10, and only 7.6% rating it under a five.

The number of near-perfect ratings should be an eye-opener, Michael Barnett, M.D., co-author of the study, told NPR. “There aren’t a lot of services that we get for anything, government or not, where you’d give it a perfect score,” he pointed out.

Researchers found that patients’ positive attitudes toward the program extended across demographics and was independent of whether a given patient’s state had chosen to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Study authors did note a significantly higher percentage of beneficiaries who said they were able to get all of their necessary care in states that expanded Medicaid, as opposed to those that did not.

With only 3% of enrollees indicating issues receiving care due to waiting times or physicians unwilling to accept their insurance, the authors concluded that Medicaid coverage does not appear to present a barrier to patients.

Given these results, the authors conclude that coverage losses could produce “major adverse effects” among the population currently insured under Medicaid.