Medicaid Expansion Has Saved at Least 19,000 Lives, New Research Finds
State Decisions Not to Expand Have Led to 15,000 Premature Deaths
The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults is preventing thousands of premature deaths each year, a landmark study finds. It saved the lives of at least 19,200 adults aged 55 to 64 over the four-year period from 2014 to 2017. Conversely, 15,600 older adults died prematurely because of state decisions not to expand Medicaid. (See Figure 1; see Table 1 for state-by-state estimates.) The lifesaving impacts of Medicaid expansion are large: an estimated 39 to 64 percent reduction in annual mortality rates for older adults gaining coverage.
The new research fills a void, using a novel dataset to document sizable declines in mortality that smaller surveys could not detect. But its findings are consistent with a large body of research that has already documented that Medicaid expansion improves access to care and health outcomes. For example, research shows that Medicaid expansion increased the share of low-income adults using medications to control chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The new study finds particularly clear evidence of a drop in mortality from conditions like these, which are amenable to medication and other treatment.