By Associated Press - Thursday, November 13, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Hospital Association said the number of patients without health insurance has plunged, largely because the state has expanded its Medicaid program.

Hospital leaders say in the first six months of this year, the number of uninsured people treated in Iowa hospitals has dropped by nearly half compared to same period last year.

About 4,500 patients lacking health insurance were hospitalized from January through June of this year, according to the hospital association. That’s a 46 percent decline from the almost 8,200 uninsured patients treated last year, The Des Moines Register ( ) reported.

“This analysis provides further evidence that Medicaid expansion is doing what it was intended to do - making health care more accessible and affordable for the 110,000 Iowans who have gained eligibility and coverage,” said Kirk Norris, president of the hospital association.

Hospital leaders had pushed for the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, saying that when their facilities treat people who can’t pay, the costs end up being passed on to other patients by driving up their insurance premiums.

People earning less than $16,200 annually qualify for public coverage under the state’s Medicaid expansion. Most adults without children didn’t qualify for such coverage in the past.

The hospital association said emergency room visits also increased less than 1 percent. The finding should ease worries that hospital rooms would be crammed with new patients once more people had health insurance, the association said.


Information from: The Des Moines Register,

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