Even before the 2014 expansion of Medicaid to all adults in participating states making under 138% of the federal poverty level, Medicaid has been working to keep millions of people out of poverty. As said before on this blog, medical costs can overwhelm a family’s finances. Medicaid’s role is to reduce this out of pocket expense.
This paper in 2013 found:
Overall, Medicaid kept at least 2.6 million—and as many as 3.4 million—out of poverty in 2010, making it the U.S.’s third largest anti-poverty program.
As the study notes, Medicaid affects different populations differently. The poverty reducing effects were greatest among the disabled, followed by children and finally the elderly (likely because the elderly are supported by other social welfare programs). It’s important to remember, that while Medicare does prevent millions of elderly and disabled individuals from living in poverty (the original reason the program was created), there is significant cost sharing.
This week, a great Commonwealth Fund study came out that updated this important statistic. Medicaid beneficiaries see lower rates of trouble paying medical bills than uninsured people or people with private insurance. Truly Medicaid’s role is to provide the necessary safety net to keep people out of poverty.