KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Expanded Medicaid Offers Opportunities — But Not Without Confusion

News outlets detail how patients still don't completely understand the benefits that are now available to them.

Los Angeles Times: Medi-Cal Seen As Relief For Some, Confusing Burden For Others
Supporters of national health care reform tout the expansion of Medicaid -- called Medi-Cal in California -- as one of the great successes of the Affordable Care Act. For many needy people, learning they're eligible for the usually free program has been a tremendous relief -- assurance that, after decades of forgoing care or worrying about medical expenses, they'll now be able to afford medications, see a doctor or seek emergency care without worrying about ending up broke. But the news isn't wholly welcome for others, who find the complexities of signing up with Medi-Cal bewildering and onerous (Brown, 2/1).

USA Today: Study: Patients Need Training On New Health Insurance
New Medicaid patients in Oregon failed to use their benefits effectively because they did not understand how to use insurance or health care, according to a study released Monday in the journal Health Affairs. As a result, researchers told USA Today, patients did not receive preventive health screenings, schedule appointments to manage chronic illnesses or use their new insurance coverage for anything beyond medical emergencies (Kennedy, 2/3). 

Chicago Tribune: Experts: Moving New Medicaid Patients Out Of ER Will Take Time
In expanding Medicaid coverage, the architects of the national health care overhaul hoped to change the way low-income people obtain health care, moving -- as Morgan did -- away from emergency rooms and into the offices of doctors, where more consistent supervision may improve their health. But some health care experts say that in many cases it will take time and considerable coaching to change their behavior. People tend to use health care more after they obtain coverage, and those unfamiliar with a traditional doctor-patient relationship may stick with what's familiar (Springen, 2/3).

Meanwhile, in Medicaid news from South Dakota --

The Associated Press: SD Governor Seeks Medicaid Expansion Waiver
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Friday he will once again ask federal officials to let South Dakota expand its Medicaid program in a way that would provide medical services only to those most in need (Brokaw, 1/31).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.