Ohio’s Medicaid expansion boosts health, finances

Report supported by RTI International finds rate of uninsured Ohioans at its lowest


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— Ohio’s 2014 Medicaid expansion improved health and financial benefits for hundreds of thousands of low-income Ohioans, according to an assessment supported by RTI International.

The Ohio Medicaid Assessment found that the Medicaid expansion lowered the amount of uninsured individuals among low-income working adults to 14 percent, the lowest percentage ever reported.

“Our analysis found that the Medicaid expansion improved access to physical and mental health care for those who would be otherwise uninsured or undiagnosed,” said Thomas Duffy, survey research scientist at RTI who assisted in the analysis. “This helps to not only improve the wellbeing of individuals, but reduce costly emergency room visits and the costs of controlling chronic health conditions.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, Ohio and 30 other states expanded Medicaid coverage to those up to 138 percent of the poverty line, or $16,243 per year for an individual. Before the expansion, eligibility was limited to poor children, parents and disabled individuals.

To develop the Ohio Medicaid Assessment, RTI assisted in the data collection and analysis along with the Ohio State University College of Public Health, Ohio University, and Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resources Center at the request of the Ohio General Assembly. The project was funded by Ohio Medicaid.

Among more than 702,000 who received Medicaid coverage under the Ohio Medicaid expansion, the report found the following:

  • 75 percent were uninsured previously
  • 27 percent were diagnosed with at least one chronic condition after receiving coverage
  • 32 percent were diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence
  • 57 percent were unemployed
  • Nearly a third were positively screened for depression and anxiety disorders

To conduct the report, researchers analyzed a telephone survey of more than 7,500 Medicaid beneficiaries and collected data from medical records and biomarker specimen collections. RTI assisted with writing the statutory report and was the primary author of the methodological report.