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Impacts of Medicaid Expansion on Health Among Women of Reproductive Age

Published:November 20, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2019.08.019

      Introduction

      Preconception and interconception health care are critical means of identifying, managing, and treating risk factors originating before pregnancy that can harm fetal development and maternal health. However, many women in the U.S. lack health insurance, limiting their ability to access such care. State-level variation in Medicaid eligibility, particularly before and after the 2014 Medicaid expansions, offers a unique opportunity to test the hypothesis that increasing healthcare coverage for low-income women can improve preconception and interconception healthcare access and utilization, chronic disease management, overall health, and health behaviors.

      Methods

      In 2018–2019, data on 58,365 low-income women aged 18–44 years from the 2011–2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were analyzed, and a difference-in-difference analysis was used to examine the impact of Medicaid expansions on preconception health.

      Results

      Expanded Medicaid eligibility was associated with increased healthcare coverage and utilization, better self-rated health, and decreases in avoidance of care because of cost, heavy drinking, and binge drinking. Medicaid eligibility did not impact diagnoses of chronic conditions, smoking cessation, or BMI. Medicaid eligibility was associated with greater gains in health insurance, utilization, and health among married (vs unmarried) women. Conversely, women with any (vs no) dependent children experienced smaller gains in insurance following the Medicaid expansion, but greater take-up of insurance when eligibility increased and larger behavioral responses to gaining insurance.

      Conclusions

      Expanded Medicaid coverage may improve access to and utilization of health care among women of reproductive age, which could ultimately improve preconception health.
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