Background: Medicaid expansion and subsidized private plans purchased on the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Marketplaces accounted for most of the ACA's coverage gains.
Objective: Compare access to care and financial strain between Medicaid and Marketplace plans, and benchmark these against employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) plans.
Design: Cross-sectional survey PARTICIPANTS: A nationally representative, non-institutionalized sample of 37,219 non-elderly adults with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level between 2015 and 2018, and a sub-group of individuals with chronic diseases.
Main measures: Self-reported barriers to accessing care, cost-related medication non-adherence, and financial strain.
Key results: Marketplace enrollees were more likely than Medicaid enrollees to delay or avoid care due to cost (19.3% vs 10.0%; adjusted difference (AD), 8.6 [95% CI, 6.8 to 10.4]) and report difficulties affording specialty care (7.7% vs 6.6%; AD, 1.8% [95% CI, 0.3% to 3.3%]), while there were no differences in having insurance accepted by a doctor or ability to afford dental care. Marketplace enrollees were also more likely to report cost-related medication non-adherence (21.5% vs 20.0%; AD, 4.0 [CI, 1.5 to 6.4]), be very worried about not being able to pay medical costs in case of a serious accident (32.3% vs 25.8%; AD, 6.4 [CI, 4.2 to 8.6]), have expenses exceeding $2000 (22.4% vs 5.4%; AD, 8.3 [CI, 6.2 to 10.3]), and have problems paying medical bills (18.4% vs 15.6%; AD, 1.8 [CI, 0.3 to 3.9]). Marketplace-Medicaid differences were larger among persons with a chronic disease. Individuals in ESI plans fared better for most, but not all, outcomes.
Conclusion: Medicaid offers better protections than Marketplace plans on most measures of access and financial strain.
© 2021. Society of General Internal Medicine.