New Medicaid patients may be younger, healthier – Study finds

Nearly half of the American states plan to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). Others have refused stating that the cost involved in covering all the old, sick people is enormous.

But new findings challenge this argument, saying that the newly eligible Medicaid patients are going to be younger white males who are healthier and less depressed – but more likely to be smokers and drinkers who would definitely benefit from the new Medicaid law.

“There are going to be many more males. They are going to be younger,” Dr. Tammy Chang of the University of Michigan, marked.

“This could mean that providing Medicaid to more people could cost less than forecast,” Chang said. “They are using what the Medicaid population looks like now,” she said.

The Affordable Care Act
Launched in 2010, the Affordable Care Act promised to transform health care in the United States.

Under the Act, Medicaid, the state-federal health plan would now provide health insurance to just about everyone. People earning up to about 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $14,800 for single people and $31,000 for a family of four were proposed to be covered under the extended Medicaid.

In return, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter.

But certain states contested the law stating that the Medicaid expansion required enormous costs.

The latest findings
But it is not the case. Chang with colleague Dr. Matthew Davis looked at the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a large health survey. Under the survey the participants had answered detailed questions about themselves, their health and their health coverage.

Chang and Davis compared the statistics of current Medicaid patients with those of people who would be eligible for the new Medicaid program based on income.

Currently, a Medicaid patient is 38.7 years old. This figure will drop to 36.3 years if all states expand Medicaid.

Also, while a third of patients currently enrolled for Medicaid are male, under a full expansion scheme the percentage will rise to 49. Likewise, only 50 percent of the current beneficiaries are white, but under the new plan it would reach to 59 percent.

Also, fewer of these fresh enrollees would be obese and depressed.

“Overall, potentially eligible adults are expected to have better health status than current beneficiaries,” the experts wrote.

But these new enrollees are more likely to be smokers and heavy drinkers, Chang marked. “Because these potential patients said their health was good, this could mean there’s an opportunity for doctors to help them stop smoking and cut back on their drinking before they do get sick,” Chang said.