5 Things to Read on Health Care Access

This week’s roundup covers Medicaid expansion, Medicaid work requirements and why improving access without also addressing care quality isn’t enough.

Access isn’t always enough: Care must be high-quality, too

A new study of global health outcomes finds that 5 million people in low- and middle-income countries die each year from treatable health conditions even though they got care. Substandard care, according to the study, contributed to deaths from a wide range of illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and infectious diseases. “For a very long time in global health, we have been really mandating and supporting and pushing access to care, without really thinking about what happens when people get to the clinic,” the co-commissioner of the study told NPR.

Addressing health disparities

A lead researcher and an actuary from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas teamed up to explain data on health disparities and social determinants of health. “Elimination of disparities would help to give all people the same opportunity for good health and enable longer and improved lives,” they wrote. Read their perspective in The Actuary.

[Related Video: Let’s Talk About Health Equity]

Medicaid expansion eases access to diabetes drugs

When states expand Medicaid eligibility, low-income people with diabetes can afford drugs to help control the disease, a study in Health Affairs shows. States that expanded Medicaid saw 30 additional diabetes medication prescription fills per 1,000 people compared to states that didn’t expand Medicaid access. “Medicaid eligibility expansions may address gaps in access to diabetes medications, with increasing effects over time,” the authors concluded.

Thousands lose coverage after Arkansas adds Medicaid work requirements

Arkansas implemented a work requirement for its Medicaid program in June, the first state to do so. After three months, more than 4,500 Medicaid enrollees lost their coverage because they failed to report the required number of hours worked. Health policy analysts from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families suggest this shows work requirements “will likely result in significant coverage losses for adults who rely on Medicaid coverage for their survival.”

Uninsured rate stays flat

New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the number of uninsured people in America hasn’t changed much in the last year. As of March 2018, 28.3 million Americans lacked insurance coverage — not much different from March 2017, when 28.1 million were uninsured. Axios breaks down the numbers.

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