For a whole constellation of reasons ranging from the physical to the psychological, quitting smoking is widely viewed as one of the most challenging tasks of modern humanity. Sadly, cigarettes persist as one of the leading causes of premature death in the United States. Research has found Medicaid expansion linked to smoking cessation.
A new study suggests that more low-income adults quit smoking covered by the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) than those who were not insured through ACA because they lived in a state that did not offer Medicaid expansion.
For the study, researchers reviewed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), spanning the years 2011-2015. According to the journal Medical Care in which the investigators published the findings, “BRFSS is an annual mobile and landline telephone survey of health behaviors, chronic conditions, and use of preventative measures for adults ages 18 years and above.”
Inside the Research
The team — which included researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School—assessed cross-sectional data, classified by gender, to understand the link between state Medicaid coverage expansion and the upswing of quitting smoking in low-income individuals. They compared the answers of low-income adult smokers who had coverage to those in other states who did not have Medicaid coverage; and ages 18-64 years, to those ages 65 and above. Researchers defined “smoking cessation” based on the respondents’ reports of “having been a former smoker in the past year, but not having smoked a cigarette within the past month.”
Medicaid Expansion Linked to Smoking Cessation
As per the research, access to health insurance that offers programs designed to help people quit smoking might be the key to understanding why more people are putting their cigarettes out. In fact, researchers reported a 2.1 increase in the incidence of quitting smoking among low-income adults (without dependent children) between the ages of 18-64 living in states with Medicaid coverage expansion.
According to the authors of the published article, “this finding is likely explained by greater access to preventive health care services, including evidence-based smoking cessation services, resulting from Medicaid coverage. Previous research has shown insurance coverage to have a significant positive effect on smoking cessation rates among low-income adults.”
More Reasons the ACA Matters More Than Ever
A recent saludmovil™ article covered another study that reported areas under Medicaid expansion showed a reduction in the overall amount of payday loan debt and the number of individual borrowers. California residents, for example, with expanded access to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act reduced the use of two-week loans by 11 percent.
Unfortunately, the less than optimistic flipside is that Trumpcare seems poised to hurt the Latino community.
“President Trump promises expansion of state Medicaid programs, but had no specific mention of improving the life, fears, and health of 60 million U.S. Latinos,” says Chief Medical Officer and founder of saludmovil™, Dr. Jospeh Mosquera in another recent story.
As the nation teeters uncertainly between the different policies and agendas of the past and current administration, it’s increasingly crucial to not only understand but also hone in on the many benefits of the ACA; and to weigh these benefits against the potentially harmful ramifications of our next health insurance reality.
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