Sunday, December 17, 2017

Medicaid expansion expanded coverage by 8.5% in rural areas, 4.1% in urban areas, study concludes

The expansion of Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act resulted in larger coverage gains in rural areas than urban ones, suggesting that any roll-back of the program would hurt rural America the most, according to a recent University of Louisville study.

The study, published in The Journal of Rural Health, found the percentage of low-income residents who signed up for health insurance through the expansion was greater in rural regions compared to urban ones: an 8.5 percent increase, compared to a 4.1 percent increase, respectively.

Joseph Benitez, who led the study as an assistant professor in U of L's School of Public Health and Information Sciences, said that even with the Medicaid expansion, cost-related barriers weighed more heavily on rural residents related to things like transportation to a medical provider. He said that can be problematic for individuals who live in health provider shortage areas.

“Any efforts by the government to roll back Medicaid expansion will certainly disproportionately affect the ability of rural residents to gain affordable coverage and access to care,” Benitez said in a news release.

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