Study finds low-income people with Medicaid have better control over some chronic conditions than those without coverage

November 16, 2015

Low-income people with Medicaid are more knowledgeable about their health status and have better control over some chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, than similar people without coverage, a study found. The researchers used the 1999 to 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to compare almost 3,000 adults living below the federal poverty line without insurance coverage, and nearly 1,500 similar adults with Medicaid coverage. Those with Medicaid were more likely to have at least one doctor's visit per year and were more often aware of and in control of their high blood pressure status. Those with Medicaid were also more aware of being overweight than those without insurance, researchers reported in the American Journal of Public Health. There was no association with awareness or control of diabetes or high cholesterol. "The most straightforward option is for all states to expand Medicaid," said Dr. Benjamin D. Sommers of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, who was not part of the study "Right now if you're not expanding Medicaid you are making disparities worse," he said.