(HealthDay News) – The planned expansion of Medicaid will offer benefits to those in participating states, according to an article published online Dec. 24 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ryan A. Crowley, from the American College of Physicians in Washington, DC, and William Golden, MD, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, discuss Medicaid expansion and its ramifications on patients and physicians.

The authors note that the expanded Medicaid eligibility will provide Alternative Benefit Plans that cover 10 essential health benefit categories to all low-income citizens and permanent residents in states that choose expansion. Expanding Medicaid eligibility will likely result in better self-reported health, less health care-related financial stress, and increased preventive service use, although the benefits may not be as comprehensive as traditional Medicaid and patients may have difficulty finding physicians who are willing to accept new Medicaid patients. Physicians will be able to provide regular care for a population that has historically not had health coverage. Adults with Medicaid are more likely to have a regular source of care, and the volume of uncompensated care is likely to decrease. However, physicians may experience negative consequences, including uncompensated care costs in states that do not expand Medicaid and administrative hassles.

“The Medicaid expansion will help close substantial gaps in the U.S. health care safety net, but only if all states elect to expand their programs,” the authors write.

Golden is the medical director for the Arkansas Medicaid program.

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