Surgery patients covered by Medicaid arrive at the hospital in worse health, experience more complications, stay longer and cost more than patients with private insurance, a new study has found.
The study, by researchers at the University of Michigan, may offer a preview of what to expect as millions of uninsured people qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Although Medicaid patients in the study were generally younger than the privately insured patients, they were twice as likely to smoke and had higher rates of conditions that made surgery riskier. Those conditions, which can arise from years of poor health habits, include diabetes, lung disease and blood vessel blockage.
The study, published this month in the journal JAMA Surgery, analyzed data on nearly 14,000 patients who had operations at 52 hospitals in Michigan from July 2012 to June 2013.
Dr. Darrell A. Campbell Jr., the chief medical officer of the University of Michigan Health System, who led the study, said: “The Medicaid patients were sicker, and they did not do as well following surgery. They stayed in the hospital longer, and that increases the cost.”