Healthcare innovation is a topic on the tips of most Americans’ tongues, inciting considerable controversy and forcing us to question everything from universal healthcare’s constitutionality to its effect on low-income patients. With respect largely being paid to the latter, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was drafted and implemented to increase both health insurance and access to healthcare while simultaneously reducing out-of-pocket medical expenses.
In regards to the controversial nature of nationalized healthcare, many states actually chose to opt out of the Medicaid expansion that was made available by the Affordable Care Act. So, now that we have a bit more distance on the legislation’s initial implementation, we can look back at the data and attempt to answer the burning question: is it working? The answer? Yes, we think.
While it is still relatively early on since putting the act into law, it would seem that credit report data indicates the ACA is having a positive effect on low-income individuals. Michigan Ross Professor Sarah Miller compared and contrasted the credit report information of low-income areas. Essentially, Miller and her co-authors analyzed things like car, credit card, and utility bills in areas that expanded Medicaid against comparable areas that did not expand Medicaid.
It was soon found that “people paid more bills on time and were sent to collection agencies less often than those in states that didn’t expand Medicaid.” This is, a little surprisingly, the first countrywide study conducted to discover how public health insurance coverage for non-elderly adults affects fiscal health. Yet, its findings are of tremendous importance.
Not just relevant to low-income communities, these economic benefits behoove the state’s larger economy as well. When payments are being made on time, companies are exposed to less risk across the board. It is not exclusive to the medical community. It benefits every facet of the economy. It benefits the real estate community. It benefits consumerism. It benefits the stock market.
Additionally, a separate study also conducted by Miller illustrates that Medicaid expansion fostered higher rates of insurance coverage, improved quality of coverage, increased healthcare usage, and even high diagnosis rates of chronic diseases in low-income communities. Essentially, not only does it appear that Medicaid benefits the economy as a whole, but it also inspires patients to engage with caretakers.
More people are securing coverage. More people are finding their coverage is more extensive. More people are going to the doctor. While, by no means, is healthcare adequately reformed, it is refreshing to see improvement, to see some of the potential we may be able to achieve in updating our outdated system. I can only hope that we continue to see this improvement, that we never cease to innovate, that we never fail to make better our contemporary healthcare system.