The use of long-term care services increased among both seniors and low-income adults following the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new investigation. 

Researchers found that in states before expansion, from 2008 to 2012, just 2.3% of eligible individuals used LTC services. Some 1.9% noted home care use and 0.4% reported at least one nursing home stay. 

Investigators found that Medicaid expansion was associated with a 4.4% increase in any formal LTC use. Specifically, 3.8% increase in home health care use and a 2.1% increase of any nursing home use. 

The findings were “likely attributable to the increased access to LTC through insurance rather than just a substitution of formal services for unpaid family care,” wrote study authors Courtney Harold Van Houtven, Ph.D, Brian E. McGarry, Ph.D., Eric Jutkowitz, Ph.D, et al.

“To our knowledge, this study provides the first evidence that ACA-funded Medicaid expansion was directly associated with increased formal LTC use among the population that benefited directly from expansion (non-elderly adults with low income). This associated increase occurred in both greater formal home health care use and greater nursing home use,” they explained. 

Full findings were published last week in JAMA.