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Loss of Medicaid Negatively Impacts Health Care

Patients less likely to receive primary care, more likely to have unmet medical needs and medical debt

FRIDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who lost or had disruptions in Medicaid coverage in Oregon after cost-saving changes were implemented were less likely to receive primary care and more likely to have unmet medical needs and medical debt, researchers report in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Matthew J. Carlson, Ph.D., from Portland State University in Oregon, and colleagues surveyed 2,783 adults who had been enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan for at least 30 days before nationwide cost-saving changes in Medicaid programs were implemented. Thirty-one percent of adults reported losing their health insurance and 15 percent reported disruptions in coverage.

In the 10 months after changes in the health plan took place, those who lost coverage or had disruptions in coverage were less likely to receive primary care (odds ratio 0.18 and 0.66, respectively), more likely to have unmet health care needs (OR, 5.55 and 1.85, respectively), and more likely to report medical debt (OR, 3.06 and 1.99, respectively). Those who lost coverage were also more likely to have unmet medication needs (OR, 2.05), the report indicates.

"Medicaid program changes that increase cost sharing and limit enrollment have significant negative impacts on health care access and utilization among Medicaid beneficiaries; these impacts occur rapidly, within the first 10 months after changes," the authors conclude.

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