In accordance to the new study, expanding Medicaid provides people access to a broader array of hospital choices than they had when they were uninsured.
The researchers reported that often, people are selecting hospitals closer to home.
The research uses data from 2 investor-owned hospital systems to observe either the 2014 Medicaid expansion provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – often known as Obamacare -- impacted emergency department (ED) use.
In accordance to the researcher, to date; 31 states have expanded Medicaid coverage to individuals in households making less than 138% of the federal poverty level. That is less than $16,394 for a single person and $33,534 for a family of four in 2016.
The latest analysis concentrated on whether the insurance expansion altered where people go for care. It did not look at how much care they got, whether that care was suitable or the quality of care.
The study author John Graves, an assistant professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn said, "By expanding Medicaid, it broadened access potentially to affordable care at a wider range of facilities”.
He said, "They seem to be type of voting with their feet.” For instance, people are turning from public to private hospitals.
He explained that uninsured sufferers use the public hospital "without having to worry as much about having unpaid medical bills.” But, had Tennessee expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, more low-income individuals might be using the closer facility, he recommended.
Dr. Maria Raven is an associate professor of emergency medicine at the institute of University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. She was not engaged in the new research.
Raven gave reason that Medicaid expansion "is a great thing for the patient if these hospitals really provide higher quality or equivalent quality care," in contrast to facilities that are farther away.