NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Louisiana Shows Coverage Does Not Equal Access

February 28, 2017

Senior Fellow John R. Graham writes at NCPA's Health blog:

Readers know I disagree with using measurements of "coverage" as proxies for access to medical care. New data from the Louisiana Department of Health, which cheers the expansion of Medicaid dependency in the state, shows (unwittingly) exactly why.

Healthy Louisiana's Dashboard shows 402,557 adults became dependent on Medicaid as a result of Obamacare's expansion. The Department notes benefits for some sick people. For example, screening resulted in 74 people being diagnosed with breast cancer and 64 diagnosed with colon cancer.

The Dashboard stops there, not telling us how those newly diagnosed were treated. (Medicaid patients often receive treatment later than privately insured.) However, there is another, likely bigger problem.

Of these almost half million newly dependent, only 62,742 received "preventive healthcare or new patient services." As David Anderson of the Duke-Margolis explained to me on Twitter, this excludes those who became dependent on Medicaid who were already being treated or did not get any treatment. That is, the Medicaid enrollment resulted in zero change in access to health care for 339,815 of the newly dependent. That amounts to 84 percent of the population.

Why did these people enroll in Medicaid when they were already receiving care or did not want to receive care? Well, the Medicaid expansion involved a lot of promotion, including enrollment "fairs" in high-traffic areas, so why not sign up and get a balloon or lapel pin or whatever?

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