With the fourth-highest uninsured rate, and rural hospitals facing financial struggles, we cannot afford to ignore a solution that would allow more than 240,000 Georgians access to coverage they can use to pay for health care. Medicaid expansion has proven successful in improving key health measures. A study from The Commonwealth Fund found that 94 percent of adults on Medicaid report satisfaction with their coverage. In Arkansas and Kentucky, expanding Medicaid resulted in a 29 percent increase in the share of people with a personal physician, a 42 percent increase in the share of people reporting excellent health and a 25 percent drop in the share of people having trouble paying their medical bills.
While Medicaid coverage is associated with better outcomes, health coverage is only one factor contributing to a person’s health status. Studies estimate that medical care only accounts for about 10 to 20 percent of health outcomes. Factors such as environment, housing, education and income play a bigger role in improving health. Coverage is essential to helping people afford necessary services, but Medicaid can also play a role in keeping people healthy outside of hospitals or clinics. For example, Georgia can use the Medicaid waiver to connect enrollees to workforce development services or provide services to help them get into safe, quality housing.