Researchers Find Dramatic Health Improvements Through Arkansas's Private Option

Aug 11, 2016

Arkansans are healthier than they would have been without the Affordable Care Act, researchers say.  

A new study comparing health outcomes for low income residents of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas following the federal rollout of the Affordable Care Act has found states that expanded Medicaid saw the health benefits.

The Journal of The American Medical Association published the article titled, Medicaid expansion under ACA linked with better health care, improved health for low-income adults. Author Dr. Benjamin Sommers says Arkansas and Kentucky saw major strides for low income residents compared to Texas, which did not expand Medicaid. 

“There were dramatic changes for most of the outcomes we studied, in terms of improvements in people's ability to afford the care they need, people's ability to have a primary care provider," he said. "Shifting towards outpatient care and preventative care, like having a checkup in the past year with more office visits and less reliance on the emergency department.”

Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion was traditional and involved public insurance. Arkansas’s Private Option allowed the purchase of private insurance for over 270,000 residents.

Sommers said outcomes were similar in both states. In even bigger terms, he believes the study disproves arguments that Medicaid is ineffective.  

“People benefit in terms of their ability to afford care," he said. "They feel their overall care and health are improving,” said Sommers. 

Study authors took data samples at three points over the past two years.