Study finds Medicaid expansion in Kentucky provided most benefit to those in poorer areas

May 1, 2017 by Julie Heflin, University of Louisville

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Kentucky proved most beneficial for Kentuckians living in areas with high concentrations of poverty, particularly children, according to a study by a researcher in the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences in collaboration with colleagues at Ohio State University and Emory University. The study was published recently in Health Services Research.

Joseph Benitez, Ph.D., assistant professor in UofL's Department of Health Management and System Sciences and member of the school's Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky, said the findings suggest expanding Medicaid is one mechanism that largely helped to address many of the care needs of some of the poorest Kentuckians.

"Most of the reduction in Kentucky's uninsured rate between 2013 through 2015 was driven by an uptake in coverage within ZIP codes of high poverty concentrations," Benitez said. "Similarly, the study revealed statistically and substantively meaningful reductions in the number of Kentuckians who delayed or decided not to seek due to cost, in addition to having a regular source of medical care. These findings were almost entirely concentrated among Kentuckians living in poorer ZIP codes."

Utilizing a version of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) from Kentucky's Department for Public Health, the study compared trends before and after implementation of the ACA in , access measures and health care utilization for Kentuckians in higher verses lower poverty ZIP codes.

This builds on a previous study conducted by Benitez and his UofL colleagues that found the uninsured rate among Kentucky households with annual incomes below $25,000 dropped from 35 percent in 2013 to almost 10 percent by the end of 2014. The same households also saw a 50 percent reduction in the number of those foregoing medical care because of high costs.

Benitez says although it may be too early to identify meaningful improvement in health status of Kentuckians, given the promising results for coverage, access and utilization among some of the most economically vulnerable population, positive long-term health effects are likely.

"It is clear from this study that expanding Medicaid helps address the health care needs of the impoverished. Using Kentucky as a case example to study the effects of the ACA across geographic areas holds lessons for policy makers weighing the costs and benefits of ACA participation," Benitez said.

Explore further: More low-income adults enrolled in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act

More information: Joseph A. Benitez et al, Did Health Care Reform Help Kentucky Address Disparities in Coverage and Access to Care among the Poor?, Health Services Research (2017). DOI: 10.1111/1475-6773.12699

Related Stories

More low-income adults enrolled in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act

February 17, 2016
A University of Louisville study published today in Health Affairs, found low-income Kentuckians without health insurance declined by 68 percent from 35 percent uninsured at the end of 2013 to 11 percent in late 2014. Completed ...

Public health researchers track transformative period of Kentucky health policy

June 22, 2016
Health care insurance coverage remains a contested policy issue in Kentucky years after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Report released on Affordable Care Act implementation in Louisville

November 2, 2016
Findings from a recent study on health care utilization in Metro Louisville indicate the uninsured rate decreased by more than half in just one year, from almost 17 percent in 2013 to just under 8 percent in 2014.

Traditional Medicaid expansion and 'private option' both improve access to health care

January 5, 2016
Two different approaches used by states to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income adults—traditional expansion and the 'private option'—appear to be similarly successful in reducing numbers of the uninsured and in expanding ...

Medicaid expansion under ACA linked with better health care for low-income adults

August 8, 2016
Two years after Medicaid coverage was expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in their states, low-income adults in Kentucky and Arkansas received more primary and preventive care, made fewer emergency department visits, ...

Alternative insurance expansions under ACA linked to better access, use of care

August 8, 2016
Two different approaches to insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were associated with increased outpatient and preventive care, reduced emergency department use, and improved self-reported health compared ...

Recommended for you

Seven percent of children in orthodontic care at 'high risk' for sleep disorders, according to new research

August 21, 2018
A child who is restless, hyperactive and can't concentrate could have a problem rooted in a source parents might not suspect: a sleep disorder.

Simple leg exercises could reduce impact of sedentary lifestyle on heart and blood vessels

August 21, 2018
A sedentary lifestyle can cause an impairment of the transport of blood around the body, which increases the risk of disease in the heart and blood vessels. New research published in Experimental Physiology suggests that ...

If you've got MS, exercise means much more than moving

August 21, 2018
For people with multiple sclerosis, the meaning of exercise stretches way beyond health and keeping fit, shows new research revealing what life's really like with the condition.

Your office may be affecting your health

August 20, 2018
Workers in open office seating had less daytime stress and greater daytime activity levels compared to workers in private offices and cubicles, according to new research led by the University of Arizona.

Healthy diet linked to healthy cellular aging in women

August 20, 2018
Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in added sugar, sodium and processed meats could help promote healthy cellular aging in women, according to a new study published in the American Journal ...

Sitting for long hours found to reduce blood flow to the brain

August 20, 2018
A team of researchers with Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K. has found evidence of reduced blood flow to the brain in people who sit for long periods of time. In their paper published in the Journal of Applied ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.