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Landmark Medicaid Study on Effect of Program Expansion

The results of a comprehensive new research effort on Medicaid’s effects on low-income residents was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The full summary of the article can be found online here.

As discussed in the New York Times late last week, the project compared individuals who received Medicaid support over a period of two years with those in similar income brackets who were not enrolled in Medicaid. The idea was to compare these groups on a wide range of indicators–financial well-being, physical health, mental health, and more. As such, it provides the most comprehensive understanding yet of how wide-ranging Medicaid changes may impact various community members.

Counterintuitive Results?
Interestingly, some of the finding are a bit surprising. For one thing, over the two-year period of the study, those on Medicaid did not showed marked differences in physical health on factors like blood pressure and blood sugar levels. However, observers are quick to point out that this may be because of the relatively short-time frame of the effort. Looking at health outcome five or ten years out may be a better indicator of how access affects various basic health indicators.

And that is not to say that there were not clear benefits to program expansion. The study found that those on Medicaid were clearly better off financially as a result of the support–significant sums of their income were saved that otherwise would have been lost to out-of-pocket medical bills.

In addition, mental health indicators showed those with Medicaid support were better off than their non-Medicaid counterparts. Depression levels were lower among the covered group, up to 30% lower.

Medicaid & Seniors
While the Medicaid study is drawing a lot of attention for its comprehensive scope, it is important to put it into context for New York seniors who are on (or may join) the program. While some seniors were included in the study groups, the majority of program participants in this research effort were low-income children and adults. The needs of this group are slightly different than those of seniors for basic care.

In other words, while this research may offer mixed-results regarding to merit of Medicaid expansion, there is obvious benefit for seniors who need close care and who are unable to pay the staggering costs on their own. It is one thing to understand system-wide trends, it is another to have a senior loved one who has a medical emergency and suddenly needs around-the-clock care. In the latter case, qualifying for Medicaid is obviously essential, regardless of the national trends.

Every family is different. That is why it is important to receive individual advice about qualifying for Medicaid and understanding what benefits the program can provide in your specific case. For help throughout New York on these issues, please get in touch with our team of NY elder law attorneys.

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