Medicaid legislation intended to remove financial barriers to health care for the poor. A household interview survey of the Metropolitan Baltimore area in 1968-69 shows that persons on Medicaid are the highest users of health services. More Medicaid recipients in Baltimore visited a physician in two weeks and one year; more were admitted one or more times to a hospital. The total number of days in a hospital per 100 persons was considerably greater for Medicaid adults.
Higher utilization of health services in Baltimore can be explained by the fact that Medicaid recipients are sicker than the rest of the population. Fewer Medicaid recipients are healthy; more are acutely, chronically, or acutely and chronically ill; more are chronically ill with impairment.
The higher rate of chronic illness accounts for higher hospital use for the working age population. When compared by morbidity categories, ill Medicaid recipients are using services at least at the same level as others, but healthy Medicaid recipients are using more services.