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New Medicaid Enrollees Under ACA May Be Healthier

Potentially eligible have lower prevalence of obesity, depression than current beneficiaries

THURSDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Adults potentially eligible for Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) are expected to have equal or better health status than current beneficiaries, according to research published in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Tammy Chang, M.D, M.P.H., and Matthew Davis, M.D., both from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, utilized data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007 to 2010) to identify adult U.S. citizens potentially eligible for Medicaid (13.6 million) under provisions of the ACA and compare them with current adult Medicaid beneficiaries (13.8 million) with respect to demographic characteristics and health measures.

The researchers found that potentially eligible individuals are more likely to be male (49.2 percent potentially eligible versus 33.3 percent current beneficiaries) and more likely to be white and less likely to be black (58.8 percent white and 20.0 percent black versus 49.9 percent white and 25.2 percent black). Potentially eligible adults will likely have significantly better health status than current beneficiaries. Among potentially eligible individuals, the proportions of obese individuals (34.5 percent versus 42.9 percent) and those with depression (15.5 percent versus 22.3 percent) are significantly lower compared to that seen in current beneficiaries. There are no significant differences expected with prevalence of diabetes or hypertension.

"Federal Medicaid expenditures for newly covered beneficiaries therefore may not be as high as anticipated in the short term," the authors write.

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