Medicaid’s 50th Anniversary!

In case you didn’t know, today is Medicaid’s 50th Birthday.

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law a new public insurance program to offer health coverage to certain low-income people as an amendment to the Social Security Act.

As we explained yesterday in our Wonky Word Wednesday, in the past fifty years, Medicaid has transformed health care for low-income families and individuals, including children, parents, pregnant mothers, seniors, and people with disabilities. It provides parents and other adults economic security through health coverage that protects them from medical debt and allows them to stay healthy and work.

In celebration of this important milestone, (and because we like numbers and data) we decided to provide you with some facts about Medicaid in Montana.

Who does Medicaid serve?

  • Medicaid covers 1 in 3 kids in our state. And as you may guess, healthy kids do better in school, are more likely to graduate from college, and earn more over a lifetime. This helps all of us.
  • 11,000 seniors get health care through Medicaid, including nursing home care and services that help them live at home. Because Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, Medicaid is critical to our aging low-income population.
  • Medicaid covers 4,200 babies each year. This gives them a healthier start, which has big implications over the course of their lives.
  • Medicaid gives 21,600 disabled Montanans access to critical care that helps them live independently.
  • Once the federal Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services approves Montana’s waiver (read more about that process and timeline here), an additional 70,000 low income Montanans will be eligible to receive affordable health care.

Is Medicaid good insurance?

  • Medicaid is good insurance that helps 128,000 live healthier, more productive lives.
  • Medicaid beneficiaries are more likely than the uninsured to access preventive care, such as mammograms for women and vaccinations for kids.
  • They also are more likely to have a regular office or clinic where they can go to get primary care.
  • A key study found that expansion of Medicaid coverage for low-income adults reduced mortality by 6% on average in the states that were studied.

How does Medicaid compare to private insurance?

  • It costs less than private insurance.
  • Administrative costs are low. In fact, Medicaid’s administrative costs are less than half the administrative costs of private insurers.
  • Medicaid spending has grown more slowly than private insurance.

As we move along the process of expanding Medicaid in Montana, it’s important to take note of how much good it does now. Having this health care coverage helps people avoid medical debt, live healthier lives, be more productive at work, make sure kids have glasses and see the dentist, and so much more. It truly is the safety net for low-income disabled individuals, pregnant women, seniors, children, and hopefully an additional 70,000 Montanans.


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