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Many Uninsured Vets Will Be Eligible for Medicaid Under ACA

But most of uninsured will have new coverage options only if their state expands Medicaid

FRIDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- A large proportion of uninsured veterans and their spouses will be eligible for Medicaid or new subsidies for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Jennifer Haley and Genevieve M. Kenney, Ph.D., from the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C., used data from the 2008 to 2010 American Community Survey to estimate the number of uninsured veterans and family members nationwide and assess how many would gain Medicaid coverage under the ACA.

The researchers estimated that 535,000 uninsured veterans (four in 10) and 174,000 uninsured spouses of veterans (one in four) have incomes lower than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), and consequently, under the ACA, would be eligible for Medicaid or new subsidies for coverage. The majority of the uninsured (414,000 veterans and 113,000 spouses) has an income below 100 percent of the FPL, and will only be eligible for coverage if their state expands Medicaid. Most live in states that have elected not to expand Medicaid or are undecided about expansion.

"This analysis suggests that, as is the case for the rest of the nonelderly uninsured, the Medicaid expansion could help address coverage gaps for veterans and their family members in many states," the authors write. "As with the general population, uninsurance among veterans and their family members is related to greater problems accessing care, suggesting that increased enrollment in Medicaid would increase the likelihood that their health care needs are being met."

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