Medicaid expansion boosts preventive care

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More Kentuckians than ever are using preventive care services since the state expanded Medicaid on Jan. 1, reports FamiliesUSA, a lobby for federal health reform.

Recent data from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services show a 37 percent increase in the use of preventive care services since 2013, report Andrea Callow, a Medicaid policy analyst and Katie Supko, a Medicaid intern for FamiliesUSA.

Since the expansion, which has provided coverage to more than 450,000 Kentuckians, the cabinet reports a 30 percent increase in breast cancer screenings, a 3 percent increase in cervical cancer screenings, a 16 percent increase in colorectal cancer screening and a 37 percent increase in adult dental visits.

Screenings and check-ups allow medical providers to identify issues before they advance, and improves the chance treatment will be successful.

With early detection, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 90 percent, and the rate for cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent, the writers note. Screenings for colon cancer have a five-year survival rate higher than 90 percent if detected early, but only 40 percent of colon-cancer diagnoses are made during this early stage.

“Medicaid expansion makes preventive care possible,” the authors write. “Kentucky’s decision to expand Medicaid will undoubtedly reap the state many benefits, from a drop in the uninsured rate to an increase in economic activity” by expanding health-care jobs. “But the access to critical preventive care services may be the benefit that gives Kentucky a much-needed boost in the health status of its residents.”

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.