June 27 (UPI) — Low-income Michigan residents enrolled in the state’s expanded Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act are seeing benefits to health and employment, researchers found in a recent study.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found that 69 percent of the 4,090 Medicaid recipients surveyed, who had jobs prior to enrollment reported doing better at work after enrolling in the Healthy Michigan Plan, the state’s Medicaid expansion plan under the ACA, sometimes referred to as Obamacare.
The study, which was presented June 27 at the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting, showed nearly half of the newly covered residents reported improvements in their physical health in the first year of coverage and close to 40 percent reported improvements in their mental and dental health.
Approximately 55 percent of participants who were unemployed also reported that health coverage made them better able to seek employment. Of the survey participants, 80 percent had an income below the federal poverty level and 28 percent were unemployed.
“Having health insurance, and being able to take care of one’s health as a result, has a large positive impact on a person’s ability to do a better job at work or seek employment,” Dr. Renuka Tipirneni, of the U-M Institute of Healthcare Policy and Innovation, said in a press release. “Given that a large portion of those with chronic illness or poor health are already working, this has many implications for the way we structure Medicaid programs.”
Participants who reported health improvements also experienced improvements to their work life and were four times more likely to attribute having Medicaid to helping them do better at work. Individuals who were unemployed but said their health improved were three times as likely to attribute their Medicaid coverage to helping them look for a job.
Individuals with chronic health conditions made up more than two-thirds of all those surveyed, and they reported a significant increase in their job performance in their first year of coverage as well.
“Our findings show that many people in the Healthy Michigan Plan who aren’t healthy overall are working nonetheless, and so are many people with chronic conditions,” Tipirneni said. “We intend to study these participants in future work, to understand what factors influence their ability to hold or seek employment.”