Medicaid coverage lapses lead to more expensive hospitalizations

Share this content:
Temporary lapses in Medicaid coverage can lead to higher rates of hospitalizations for diseases that can be treated in primary-care settings, according to a recent report.

Among enrollees in California's Medicaid program between 1998 and 2002, 62% experienced one or more lapses in their Medicaid coverage, say researchers at the University of California San Francisco. The strongest risk-period for hospitalization was the first three months after coverage lapsed, according to the report. The most common causes for hospitalization included heart failure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which researchers say can all be better treated in a primary care setting.

Dropping Medicaid coverage for those who cannot keep up with mandatory reporting requirements may seem like a good way to save the state money, but this report shows that lapsed coverage tends to lead to more costly medical treatments, researchers say. Their report appeared in the Dec. 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.