ObamaCare Perk: Better Diabetes Diagnosis?

Report suggests health care law could stave off disease's serious complications
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2015 12:41 PM CDT
ObamaCare Perk: Better Diabetes Diagnosis?
There's a significant difference in diabetes diagnoses in Medicaid states and non-Medicaid states.   (Shutterstock)

A new study may lend credibility to ObamaCare's effectiveness when it comes to fighting diabetes, the New York Times reports. The Quest Diagnostics study published today in the Diabetes Care journal shows that in the 24 states that didn't expand their Medicaid programs, the number of Medicaid patients who were diagnosed with diabetes in the first six months of 2014 rose just 0.4% over the same period in 2013—but in DC and the 26 states that did expand their Medicaid initiatives, the numbers grew by 23%. The results of the study, criticized in some corners for not being wide-ranging enough, still offer interesting observational stats that deserve further examination, others conclude. "This suggests that states that are accepting this kind of coverage are doing their populations a huge favor," the director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital tells the Times.

In 2012, 29.1 million people (9.3%) in the US had diabetes, but 8.1 million of those cases went undiagnosed, per the American Diabetes Association. Those patients may have been able to avoid serious repercussions from the disease if they had caught it earlier: Diabetes and its complications rack up a $176 billion tab per year, a 2014 CDC press release noted. But while researchers are hoping the results can help trim that cost, skeptics point out that the numbers were based on results from just one lab company (a researcher notes to the Times it was "an opportunistic analysis of data"), and that there may be other reasons for the spike in Medicaid-leaning states, such as higher population growth or an increase in Quest's market share there, the Times notes. (ObamaCare might be creating lots of new jobs, too.)

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