Medicaid Expansion Associated With Fewer Hospital Admissions

Effect strong for chronic respiratory conditions and diabetes-related complications
Robert Calandra

Researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and Harvard Medical School found that Medicaid expansion under the ACA  were “associated with meaningful reductions in preventable hospitalizations.

The reductions in hospitalization were largely concentrated in chronic respiratory conditions (COPD and asthma), diabetes-related complications, and bacterial pneumonia. The findings reinforce early findings. 

Hospitalizations for "ambulatory care–sensitive conditions" are a sign of poor access to preventive and primary care, noted the authors of the study, which was published in this month's issue of Health Affairs. Citing other research, they said that more than $30 billion in avoidable hospital costs each year are at stake.

Their data  show  Medicaid expansion was associated with a 3.47% reduction in annual ambulatory care–sensitive condition discharge rates, which works out to be 0.54 fewer discharges per 1,000 adult residents. 

“Our study findings suggest the potential for Medicaid expansion to reduce the need for costly, preventable hospitalizations in vulnerable populations and produce cost saving for the U.S. health care system,”  Teresa M. Waters, the senior author of the study and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of Kentucky public health school, said in a prepared statement issued by the school.