More Americans are getting health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which may lead to many more people getting diagnosed and treated for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, a new study contends.
If the number of Americans without health insurance is cut in half under the ACA, commonly called Obamacare, that likely means up to 1.5 million newly insured people will be diagnosed with one or more chronic illnesses, the researchers projected.
That could help approximately 659,000 people gain control of a previously unmanaged condition, the study authors suggested.
“These effects constitute a major positive outcome from the ACA,” the study’s senior author, Joshua Salomon, professor of global health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said in a school news release.
“Our study suggests that insurance expansion is likely to have a large and meaningful effect on diagnosis and management of some of the most important chronic illnesses affecting the U.S. population,” Salomon added.
In conducting the study, researchers looked at data from more than 28,000 people aged 20 to 64. All had participated in the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999-2012.
The investigators also relied on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office about the potential effects of the Affordable Care Act.
Insured people were much more likely than uninsured people to receive a diagnosis for a chronic disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the study said.
Even if uninsured Americans were diagnosed with a chronic disease, those with insurance were more likely to have their condition under control, the study found. Those with insurance had better levels of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, the findings showed.
The study was published in the September issue of Health Affairs.
The researchers said the findings indicated that the U.S. health care system must be ready to provide high-quality care for increasing numbers of Americans being diagnosed with chronic diseases.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about the Affordable Care Act.