Expanding Medicaid Leads to Healthier Communities
In January 2014, 26 states within the U.S. elected to expand Medicaid eligibility guidelines. This now gives adults between 19-64 years of age with an annual income equaling up to 138% of the federal poverty line (FPL) the option to apply for Medicaid services. From 2014 to 2020, 13 more states adopted the Medicaid expansion, leaving 12 states opting against the new guidelines.
Since 2014, the first 26 states showed a decrease in uninsured Americans from 42% in 2014 to 21% in 2018. The recent 13 state expansion showed the numbers of uninsured Americans had decreased from 52% in 2020 to 42% in mid-2021. Because of the decrease in uninsured citizens, the number of Americans who improved their health within the last 5 years grew exponentially. Improvements were also seen in a decreased rate for diabetes as well as other chronic health concerns.
Medicaid Helps Decrease Blood Pressure
Research has found that the expansion of Medicaid may be associated with the increased number of Americans who improved their blood pressure levels within the last 5 years. Many lower-income citizens have very few resources to improve their health and lack the financial stability to afford private healthcare. Therefore, the expansion of Medicaid eligibility may also lead to improved chronic health conditions for marginalized populations and communities of low income. This should be an important consideration for the 12 states that have yet to adopt Medicaid expansion.
How Expanding Medicaid Affects Low-Income Citizens
With 12 states electing to not expand their Medicaid guidelines, it leaves millions of uninsured Americans lacking access to low-cost health insurance, allowing many to continue living without receiving the most basic healthcare services. Medicaid expansion can help save the lives of millions and may result in an increase in financial security for those who remain uninsured. These states may also see a substantial amount of savings if they elect to expand Medicaid eligibility opportunities to their citizens.
This Medicaid expansion displays a link to the overall quality of care and servicing capacity presented at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). These centers serve 30 million low-income citizens across the United States, providing many primary healthcare services to those in underserved areas. As a result, the expansion of Medicaid could improve the financial revenues of FQHCs, which in turn may expand their capacity limits and improve the overall quality of care given, not just to the newly insured, but to all patients residing within the FQHCs.
Although Medicaid expansion efforts started in most states almost 7 years ago, it has taken a significant amount of time for newly insured citizens to form a better connection to care and healthcare management. Unlike anything seen before, many individuals now have access to resources such as prescription medications, annual check-ups, and healthcare consultations to improve their health. It also takes some time for FQHCs to make investments in new patient revenue to improve the quality of care for all residents.
By expanding Medicaid opportunities in all states across the U.S., improvements within our healthcare system may lead to a major decline in sickness and disease for all Americans.
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