Medicaid expansion leads to greater access to diabetes medications

Prescriptions for diabetes medications increased in the first two years after states expanded eligibility for Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, compared to states that didn’t expand Medicaid.

In 2014 and 2015, 29 states and the District of Columbia expanded eligibility for Medicaid among low-income adults. In a new study published in the August issue of Health Affairs, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California (USC) analyzed data on more than 96 million prescriptions filled using Medicaid insurance between 2008 and 2015 to see the impact of expansion on access to diabetes medications.

States that expanded access to Medicaid in 2014-2015 had an additional 30 diabetes prescriptions filled per 1,000 people, compared to states that didn’t expand Medicaid. The increase in prescriptions also grew significantly over the two years.

“Our findings suggest that patients gained access to diabetes medications once they got insurance through Medicaid,” said Elbert Huang, MD, director of the Center for Chronic Disease Research and Policy at UChicago and senior author of the study.