Some Medicaid expansion advocates in Utah believe that, financially, the state can get something for nothing by opting to expand the program under the provisions of Obamacare.
Unfortunately, this contradicts common sense and experience. Expanding Medicaid will not only cost taxpayers millions, but will push thousands off their current insurance coverage.
According to a recent state-funded analysis of Utah’s Medicaid expansion (or non-expansion) options, between 18,119 and 55,542 men, women, and children in Utah will lose their private health insurance coverage by 2023 if Utah policymakers choose to expand Medicaid. These estimates are based on a broad swath of peer-reviewed research on a phenomenon called “crowding out” – the reality that expanding government health care reduces private health care coverage.
According to the analysis, there is no “hard evidence” suggesting that those who lose private health insurance from “crowding out” subsequently enroll in public health care programs. To the extent that they do, it means Medicaid expansion will cost Utah taxpayers millions of dollars to pay for the health care of thousands of Utahns that would have paid for their own health care coverage sans expansion. On the other hand, if Utahns “crowded out” of their private coverage do not enroll in Medicaid, it means Medicaid expansion is actually creating thousands of uninsured Utahns who would have had health insurance if Utah had not expanded Medicaid – creating more of the very problem that Medicaid expansion is meant to address!
Whether out of basic fairness to Utah taxpayers who would be asked to pay for expanded government health care, or from a desire not to pursue “solutions” that create more of the social problem they claim to address, Utah policymakers should avoid Medicaid expansion. Not only will it cost taxpayers millions, but it will needlessly destroy the health care coverage of thousands of Utahns.