Med­i­caid: Poor health, high ex­pec­ta­tions

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY RI­CARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR As­so­ci­ated Press

Washington – It’s one of Med­i­caid’s chal­lenges.

While low-in­come peo­ple are more likely to strug­gle with health prob­lems such as smoking and de­pres­sion, new re­search shows many are mo­ti­vated to im­prove.

Thurs­day’s study from the GallupShare­care Well-Be­ing In­dex found that 40 per­cent of peo­ple on Med­i­caid say they’re in fair or poor health, com­pared with 11 per­cent of those with work­place cov­er­age.

The anal­y­sis for The

As­so­ci­ated Press also showed that Med­i­caid re­cip­i­ents are in­vested in their health, with 4 out of 5 say­ing they have a per­sonal doc­tor, 3 out of 5 say­ing they eat healthy, and nearly half say­ing they ex­er­cise fre­quently.

Med­i­caid could gain by putting more em­pha­sis on preven­tion, and stress­ing bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion of care, ex­perts say. Such strate­gies are al­ready em­ployed by many work­place health plans and by Medi­care.

Med­i­caid is a fed­eral-state pro­gram orig­i­nally en­vi­sioned as a safety net for poor fam­i­lies and se­verely dis­abled peo­ple. To­day, it cov­ers about 1 in 5 Amer­i­cans, at a to­tal cost of about $600 bil­lion an­nu­ally. In states that ex­panded Med­i­caid un­der former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health law, it’s be­come the in­surer for many low­in­come work­ing adults. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion tried to un­ravel Obama’s ex­pan­sion.

“We now have emerg­ing ev­i­dence in Medi­care and com­mer­cial in­sur­ance of how care co­or­di­na­tion and preven­tion can help pa­tients with chronic con­di­tions avoid costly hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and ER vis­its,” said Kavita Pa­tel, a policy ex­pert at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion who’s also a physi­cian.

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