A new study done to assess the impact of Medicaid programs in certain states in the U.S. showed that there was more number of newly diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Medicaid, the government-run health insurance for the poor was a launched as part of the Affordable Care Act to diagnose diabetes at an earlier stage to prevent complications and improve health outcomes.
"This is important because diabetes is becoming more prevalent as the population gets older," said Dr. Harvey Kaufman, lead author of the study and Senior Medical Director at Quest Diagnostics.
In January 2014, 26 states expanded access to Medicaid. In states that didn't expand Medicaid, diagnosis increased just 0.4% while the newly diagnosed diabetes cases among Medicaid recipients surged 23%.
Kaufman and colleagues focused their research on the hemoglobin A1c test, which measures the average blood sugar level for the past two or three months. People are considered diabetic when their A1c level is at least 6.5%.
The average A1c levels of newly diagnosed diabetes patients with access to Medicaid were 7.96%, compared with 8.14% in non-expansion states.
"It was apparent in the non-expansion states that you are making diagnosis at a later stage when they are presenting at the hospital with complications," said Dr. Robert Ratner, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.