By Consumers For Quality Care, on March 17, 2021
According to a guest column from philanthropic health leaders in The Missoulian, Medicaid is working for Montana.
Two recently-released reports found that the state legislature’s expansion of Medicaid in 2015 resulted in coverage for 265,000 people, or one in 10 Montanans having insurance who didn’t previously.
Beyond that, the reports found that the program paid for itself and had a net benefit on the state’s finances. Medicaid expansion introduced an additional $650 million into Montana’s economy, creating 6,000 new jobs and $400 million in personal income. Combining the program’s savings with the revenue from increased economic activity means the program covered between 110% and 159% of the state’s share of the cost.
The reports also showed that 75% of program enrollees are working adults, and that the average person only stays on it for two years. Businesses benefited as well – nearly 60% of local businesses in Montana had at least one employee enrolled in Medicaid, and 25% of businesses had at least a quarter of their employees enrolled.
Two-thirds of those covered under the expansion live in rural Montana, and the program also greatly expanded health care access for Native people.
Greater access to preventive screenings resulted in health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer being addressed before they got more serious. The program was also a critical safety-net during the coronavirus pandemic, covering the 17% of Montanans who applied for unemployment.
Five years after its implementation, it is clear Medicaid expansion has been a fiscally sound investment in effectively addressing some of the most critical health issues in Montana.