Newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries are in worse health than current beneficiaries, according to recent study by Avalere Health, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/8).
The finding suggests that many individuals will rely heavily on Medicaid coverage when program eligibility expands under the federal health reform law in 2014.
An analysis of data from the 2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey found that about two-thirds of Medicaid beneficiaries reported being in "excellent" or "very good" health. However, among U.S. residents whose annual incomes are less than 133% of the federal poverty level -- who will become eligible for Medicaid under the overhaul -- about half said they fit those categories.
According to Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson, newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries often are "underdiagnosed because they don't have access to preventive care." He added that the expansion of the program in 2014 likely will lead to an influx in enrollment and the use of "preventive-care services offered either in Medicaid or the private insurance under the exchange."
However, Mendelson said he was unsure if the influx of less healthy beneficiaries would push the health reform law beyond its original cost projections (Fung, National Journal, 8/9).