Medicaid Expands, Favoring the Poor in the “Diabetes Belt”

Last modified: January 22, 2021

The aptly named “Diabetes Belt” — US counties and states possessing some of the highest diabetes rates in the country — has expanded Medicaid and the results have been positive thus far. 

According to a new study, there was a huge drop in the number of low-income people without health insurance coverage in the Diabetes Belt. States that widened their Medicaid program saw a 20% drop in uninsured rates whereas the states that failed to do so saw a 13% reduction. Researchers examined the data from people aged 64 and below with incomes not more than 138% of the federal poverty line. 

Moreover, the researchers also tried including a wide range of income in their study. What they found was a 4.8% drop in uninsured rates following the Medicaid expansion. According to one of the researchers, Jennifer Lobo, the expansion offers better access to services and care that help prevent diabetes or slow down the progression of the disease.  

Lobo added that addressing the complications from diabetes at an early stage would result in an improved quality of life. Of course, this is only possible with consistent preventive care, she said.

The researchers hope that their findings would inspire the right actions from health insurance companies. Lobo said that maintaining and expanding health care coverage, especially so in areas such as this, is crucial. These efforts should assist in preventing the onset of the disease and improve the patients’ life expectancy overall.

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