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Medicaid Expansion Under Obamacare Dramatically Reduced US Medical Debt & Patient Bankruptcies

A new study published in JAMA by scholars from Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, and the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that Medicaid expansion under Obamacare [ACA, Affordable Care Act] led to a massive reduction in medical debt in the states that chose to extend those benefits to its residents.

Vox: "The Affordable Care Act offered states a huge infusion of federal money to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults, and about 30 states took that deal right away in 2014. Since then, new medical debt in those states has fallen 44 percent, a dramatically bigger drop than was seen in the states that refused to expand the program over the same period. Those states showed only a 10 percent decline."

Other studies have shown that the ACA cut patient bankruptcies in half. “It’s absolutely remarkable,” says Jim Molleur, a Maine-based bankruptcy attorney with 20 years of experience. “We’re not getting people with big medical bills, chronically sick people who would hit those lifetime caps or be denied because of pre-existing conditions. They seemed to disappear almost overnight once ACA kicked in.”

Cutting the medical debt of patients also seems to have a variety of other positive consequences. Research has shown that high medical debt is associated with reduced health care use, including preventative care, and individuals with more debt report worse mental health.

And, this is just the latest evidence of the many benefits that the ACA had for Americans.

Vox: "This dramatic drop in medical debt after Medicaid expansion can be added to the large body of evidence documenting the benefits of the program. Research shows that people have more access to care and better self-reported health after Medicaid expansion. Cancer diagnoses come earlier, and patients are given the prescriptions for medications they need more often. A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper from 2019 concluded that states’ refusal to expand Medicaid had led to more than 15,000 deaths in one year that otherwise would not have occurred."

There is still much work to do to expand Medicaid in Republican controlled states, but, overall, there are few federal initiatives that have so positively impacted working class Americans as much as Obamacare.

#research #ACA

BY: Don Lam & Curated Content

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