Medicaid coverage, with its lower cost-sharing and unlimited benefits, appears on paper to be far better than what most Americans enjoy. But by almost all measures, Medicaid enrollees fare worse than privately insured patients with similar medical conditions. Indeed, various academic researchers have found that Medicaid enrollees often fare worse than not only patients with private insurance, but also patients with no insurance, even when controlling for a variety of factors, including income, education and health status. For example:
Medicaid patients are almost twice as likely to die after surgery as privately insured patients and about 13 percent more likely to die than the uninsured, according to a University of Virginia study.[*]
Medicaid patients are more likely to be diagnosed with cancers at a less treatable, late stage than both the uninsured and privately insured: They were nearly one-quarter (23 percent) more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and 45 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage melanoma than the uninsured, according to a study of Florida in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.[†]
Medicaid patients undergoing surgery for colon cancer were three times as likely to die as the privately insured and more than one-fourth more likely to die than the uninsured, according to a study in the journal Cancer (though survival rates for Medicaid patients with late-stage colon cancer were higher than for the uninsured).
[*] Findings controlled for age, income, health status and other variables. Damien J. LaPar et al., “Primary Payer Status Affects Mortality for Major Surgical Operations,” Annals of Surgery vol. 252, no. 3 (2010) http://goo.gl/guLvv (accessed May 20, 2013).
[†] Authors’ calculations based on Richard G. Roetzheim et al., “Effects of Health Insurance and Race on Early Detection of Cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute vol. 91, no. 16 (1999): Table 2 http://goo.gl/qSLGn (accessed May 20, 2013). The study’s findings were controlled for age, income, education, health status and other variables.