Kentuckys Medicaid Expansion Showing Early Promise On Coverage And Access To Care
Author: Joseph A. Benitez, Liza Creel, J’Aime Jennings
Kentucky is one of only two southern states, at the time of this writing, to have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The expansion raised Medicaid eligibility levels as a means to make coverage more accessible and make health care more affordable for a population likely to face financial barriers in using medical care. This article examines the first-year impact of Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion on insurance coverage and access to care. Focusing on Kentucky’s low-income population, we observed large reductions in the low-income uninsurance rate from 35 percent at the end of 2013 to just below 11 percent by the end of 2014. Other findings revealed declines in unmet medical needs because of cost and declines in the number of people without a readily identifiable source of regular care among low-income groups. While our results are limited to Kentucky’s experience with Medicaid expansion, they may hold lessons for other states looking to address health care access issues among their historically vulnerable and low-income populations.