The big news is that expanded access to Medicaid causes increased diagnosis of diabetes which presumably causes better health in the not so distant future. Google is impressed.
The number of new diabetes cases identified among poor Americans has surged in states that have embraced the Affordable Care Act, but not in those that have not, a new study has found, suggesting that the health care law may be helping thousands of people get earlier treatment for one of this country’s costliest medical conditions.
One in 10 Americans have diabetes, and nearly a third of cases have not been diagnosed. The disease takes a toll if it is caught too late, eventually causing heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure and leg and foot amputations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the disease accounts for $176 billion in medical costs annually. The poor and minorities are disproportionately affected.
In the new study by Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing company, researchers analyzed laboratory test results from all 50 states in the company’s large database over two six-month periods. In the states that expanded Medicaid, the number of Medicaid enrollees with newly identified diabetes rose by 23 percent, to 18,020 in the first six months of 2014, from 14,625 in the same period in 2013. The diagnoses rose by only 0.4 percent — to 11,653 from 11,612 — in the states that did not expand Medicaid.
This is important news, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone. The reason is that we already know that expanded access to Medicaid causes more diagnosis of diabetes. This was an extremely statistically significant result of the New England Journal of Medicine study of the Oregon Medicaid lottery. Somehow, the study was interpreted as showing small (or for the statistically illiterate zero) benefits from Medicaid.
I love to say I told you so, but I told you so.