Medicaid Expansion Coverage for Diabetes: Smart Investment
A new study released Monday afternoon by Health Affairs found that in states that expanded Medicaid, there was a 40 percent increase in patients filling their diabetes prescriptions. The chronic health condition, which requires daily medication to maintain, is prevalent among West Virginians of all incomes. The price of insulin has increased sharply in the last decade. Untreated, diabetes can lead to more serious complications like kidney damage or heart disease.
As reported by Kaiser Health News, the study “shows that the Medicaid expansion can help patients manage their health and also limit unnecessary spending. An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited by the study shows that each diabetic patient who is treated for the condition can lead to a $6,394 reduction in health care costs (in 2017 dollars) because of fewer hospital admissions.”
Medicaid Eligibility Expansions May Address Gaps In Access To Diabetes Medications
Diabetes is a top contributor to the avoidable burden of disease. Costly diabetes medications, including insulin and drugs from newer medication classes, can be inaccessible to people who lack insurance coverage. In 2014 and 2015 twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia expanded eligibility for Medicaid among low-income adults. To examine the impacts of Medicaid expansion on access to diabetes medications, we analyzed data on over ninety-six million prescription fills using Medicaid insurance in the period January 2008–December 2015. Medicaid eligibility expansions were associated with thirty additional Medicaid diabetes prescriptions filled per 1,000 population in 2014–15, relative to states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility. Age groups with higher prevalence of diabetes exhibited larger increases. The increase in prescription fills grew significantly over time. Overall, fills for insulin and for newer medications increased by 40 percent and 39 percent, respectively. Our findings suggest that Medicaid eligibility expansions may address gaps in access to diabetes medications, with increasing effects over time.