Lapses in Medicaid Coverage: Impact on Cost and Utilization Among Individuals With Diabetes Enrolled in Medicaid

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Gaps in Medicaid coverage can result in inadequate access to care. This can be particularly detrimental to those with a chronic disease such as diabetes.


To assess whether a lapse in Medicaid coverage is associated with an increase in expenditures, and acute care utilization upon reenrollment among beneficiaries with diabetes.

Research Design:

Using multivariate regression analyses, we compared pre- versus post-expenditures and utilization among 2102 individuals with diabetes who had experienced at least one 1-month lapse in their Medicaid coverage.


Dependent variables were the number of inpatient episodes, total length of stay, total number of emergency room visits, total expenditure, and pharmaceutical expenditures. These were aggregated over 3-month spans that either immediately preceded or immediately followed a lapse in coverage. Key predictor variables included a variable that identified the span as occurring pre-lapse or post-lapse in coverage, and a continuous variable identifying the length of the lapse. Predicted expenditure and utilization were calculated.


Overall total program expenditures were higher for post-lapse periods compared with pre-lapse periods. Total expenditures were estimated to increase by $239 per member per month for the 3-month period. The likelihood of having any expenditure was actually lower in the post-lapse period. However inpatient and emergency room use was higher.


The results from this study suggest that interruptions in Medicaid coverage are associated with overall greater program expenditures in the post-lapse periods. However, this increase in expenditures seems to be driven by a subset of individuals whose greater use of inpatient and emergency room services increased overall program costs.

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