With the debate over the ACA and healthcare reform raging in Washington, it seems like the only headlines made by the Federal healthcare structure these days are negative. However, a new study shows reasons to be positive about some of the changes that have been made in the Medicaid system.
Researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health have analyzed data on healthcare trends over a span of years, both before and after the ACA instituted Medicare expansion. They found an almost 2% increase in the likelihood that people would receive surgical care before their conditions caused complications, and a 2.6% increase in the likelihood that their treatment would be the optimal one.
The study included data on almost 300,000 patients, treated in both expansion and non-expansion states, for one of five common surgical conditions: appendicitis, cholecystitis, diverticulitis, peripheral artery disease or aortic aneurysm. "What was most striking was that we saw significant improvements in the treatment of surgical conditions fairly quickly, less than two years after states expanded Medicaid coverage," Andrew Loehrer, M.D., a research fellow at Harvard and the study's lead author, said in an announcement.
The rate of patients being covered by insurance and enrolled in Medicaid has also increased a great deal in the years since the ACA was put into place. Researchers theorize that because more people gained medical coverage due to the expansion of Medicaid, they were more likely to seek out treatment before their symptoms became severe or life threatening. Another study discovered recently that there has been a 4.5% decline in the probability that people at or below poverty level are uninsured, and this seems to go hand in hand with people seeking care for conditions they might have previously left untreated.
Medicaid expansion has also directly impacted the way that people seek care; patients are increasing their dependence on urgent care and primary care practices now that they are not reliant on The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act coverage to cover their treatment in the emergency room. This has reduced the number of uninsured patients across the board and reduced the debt burden on both the patients and the medical facilities.
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