The Effects of State Medicaid Expansion on Low-Income Individuals’ Access to Health Care: Multilevel Modelingedit
This study aimed to examine how states’ Medicaid expansion affected insurance status and access to health care among low-income expansion state residents in 2015, the second year of the expansion. Data from the 2012 and 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were linked to state-level data. A nationally representative sample of 544,307 adults (ages 26–64 years) from 50 states and Washington, DC were analyzed using multilevel modeling. The results indicate substantial increases in health care access between 2012 and 2015 among low-income adults in Medicaid expansion states. The final conditional multilevel models with low-income adults who had income at or below 138% of the poverty line indicate that, after controlling for individual- and state-level covariates, those who resided in the Medicaid expansion states were more likely to have health insurance (OR = 1.97, P < .001), have a usual source of care (OR = 1.37, P < .01), and receive a routine checkup (OR = 1.24, P < .01), and were less likely to not see a doctor because of cost (OR = 0.66, P < .001) compared with low-income residents in non-expansion states in 2015. Moreover, the significant interaction terms indicate that adults living in non-expansion states with income below 100% of the poverty line are the most vulnerable compared with their counterparts in expansion states and with those with income between 100%-138% of the poverty line. This study demonstrates that state-level Medicaid expansion improved health care access among low-income US residents. However, residents with income below 100% of the poverty line in non-expansion states were disproportionately negatively affected by states' decision to not expand Medicaid coverage.