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Poorer health of surgery patients on Medicaid may alter law's bottom line

The New York Times, May 19, 2014

Surgery patients covered by Medicaid arrive at the hospital in worse health, experience more complications, stay longer and cost more than patients with private insurance, a new study has found. The study, by researchers at the University of Michigan, may offer a preview of what to expect as millions of uninsured people qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Although Medicaid patients in the study were generally younger than the privately insured patients, they were twice as likely to smoke and had higher rates of conditions that made surgery riskier. Those conditions, which can arise from years of poor health habits, include diabetes, lung disease and blood vessel blockage.