Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Medicaid Saves 1,100 Lives: Study

More than 1,100 Floridians will die prematurely if the state Legislature continues to refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

This prediction emerges from a study published on the Health Affairs blog. The analysis considers the implications of three previous data-collection efforts by other groups.

One of the studies compares two groups of low-income people in Oregon: One received expanded
Medicaid coverage, the other did not.

With only two years of data, it's too soon to tell if the coverage may ultimately result in a mortality difference in the two groups. But the early data indicate that under an expanded Medicaid:

  • Patient habits of using the emergency room persist for a while.
  • Diabetics are more likely to maintain their health.
  • Families without coverage are much more likely to fall into financial ruin because of medical expenses.
  • And depression is much more pervasive in the non-covered group.

Using two other studies that offer guidance on mortality rates, the researchers calculate that it would make a difference to extend coverage to about 1 million low-income Floridians. Between 1,158 and 2,221 would die prematurely each year without the coverage, they said.
Last year, the Florida House objected to expanding Medicaid, as called for under the federal health law.  The Florida Senate came up with an alternative plan, Healthy Florida, to cover those under the poverty  level (about $11,500 for an individual).

The Florida House didn't back the plan.

If Florida passed a Medicaid expansion plan, the federal government would provide an estimated $51 billion over 10 years.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.