Interruptions in Medicaid coverage linked to increased hospitalization

December 15, 2008

New York, NY, December 15, 2008--Interruptions in Medicaid coverage are associated with a higher rate of hospitalization for conditions that can often be treated in an ambulatory care setting, including asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, according to a new study in today's issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The analysis, which examines interrupted Medicaid coverage and hospitalization rates, finds that increased risk for hospitalization is highest in the first three months after an interruption in Medicaid coverage.

The study suggests that when states require enrollees to demonstrate eligibility on a more frequent basis, they may see an increase in hospitalizations for common health conditions: lacking insurance to cover the costs of primary care, many former Medicaid enrollees end up in hospitals and are then re-enrolled in Medicaid. The study of California adults, conducted by researchers at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) Medical Center and University of California San Francisco (UCSF), was supported by the Commonwealth Fund.

Federal rules require states to re-determine Medicaid beneficiary eligibility at least once every 12 months but some states do so more often. During most of the time of this study, 1998 to 2002, California--which has the largest Medicaid program in the U.S.--required beneficiaries to report on their eligibility every 3 months. California has since reduced the frequency of eligibility determination.

"Although states may attempt to save money in the short term by dropping Medicaid coverage for those who cannot keep up with frequent reporting requirements, this study shows that disruptions in coverage come at the risk of increased hospitalization for conditions that can typically be treated in a less expensive primary care setting," said lead author Andrew B. Bindman, M.D., a professor of medicine at UCSF and chief of general internal medicine at SFGH.

The analysis of Medicaid enrollment and hospital discharge data for more than four million California adults examines the number of Medicaid beneficiaries who experienced interrupted coverage and their hospitalization rates between 1998 and 2002.

During the study period, one in six Medicaid beneficiaries in the U.S. resided in California. More than 62% of eligible beneficiaries experienced interruptions in their Medicaid coverage during the study period, with an average interruption of 25 months.

The study authors recommend that states implement policies to reduce the frequency of interruptions in Medicaid coverage, to help prevent health events that require hospitalization and thereby reduce high-cost hospital spending.

As more individuals lose jobs as the result of the current economy, states can expect to see an increase in the number of people enrolling in Medicaid. An increasing number of states, grappling with their own budget shortfalls, are assessing how frequently Medicaid beneficiaries should be required to demonstrate eligibility.

"Individuals are more likely to seek Medicaid coverage during an economic downturn--at the same time states are more likely to face budget shortfalls and are likely to seek ways to cut health care costs. States will need to ensure that people have access to the Medicaid program when they need it most," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis.
-end-
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation supporting independent research on health policy reform and a high performance health system.

Commonwealth Fund

Related Primary Care Articles from Brightsurf:

Six ways primary care "medical homes" are lowering health care spending
New analysis of 394 U.S. primary care practices identifies the aspects of care delivery that are associated with lower health care spending and lower utilization of emergency care and hospital admissions.

Continuity of English primary care has worsened with GP expansions
A new study published by the British Journal of General Practice has found that patients' abilities to see their preferred GP has fallen greater in English practices that have expanded, compared with those that stayed about the same size.

Primary care office-based vs telemedicine care visits during COVID-19 pandemic
This observational study quantified national changes in the volume, type and content of primary care delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with regard to office-based visits compared with telemedicine encounters.

Expenditures for primary care may affect how primary care is delivered
This study looks at trends in out-of-pocket and total visit expenditures for visits to primary care physicians.

Primary care clinicians drove increasing use of Medicare's chronic care management codes
To address the problem of care fragmentation for Medicare recipients with multiple chronic conditions, Medicare introduced Chronic Care Management (CCM) in 2015 to reimburse clinicians for care management and coordination.

Primary care at a crossroads: Experts call for change
Primary care providers have experienced a rise in responsibilities with little or no increase in the time they have to get it all done, or reduction in the number of patients assigned to them.

Primary care physicians during the COVID-19 epidemic
Scientists from the University of Geneva has analysed clinical data from more than 1,500 ambulatory patients tested for COVID-19.

The five phases of pandemic care for primary care
The authors present a roadmap for necessary primary care practice transformations to care for patients and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women almost twice as likely to choose primary care as men
Analysis of osteopathic medical school survey data reveals women are 1.75 times more likely to choose primary care than men, according to a study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Spending on primary care vs. other US health care expenditures
National health care survey data were used to assess the amount of money spent on primary care relative to other areas of health care spending in the US from 2002 to 2016.

Read More: Primary Care News and Primary Care Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.