Inpatient Medicaid usage and expenditure patterns after changes in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit levels

Prev Chronic Dis

Introduction: Food insecurity worsens health outcomes and is associated with increased health care usage and expenditures. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) reduces but does not eliminate recipients' food insecurity. We sought to determine whether inpatient Medicaid usage and expenditure patterns responded to an April 2009 increase in SNAP benefit levels and a subsequent November 2013 decrease.

Methods: Interrupted time series models estimated responses to the 2009 and 2013 SNAP changes in the Medicaid population, compared responses between Medicaid and Medicare recipients, and compared responses between Medicaid recipients with different likelihoods of having a disability. Analyses used 2006 through 2014 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project National (previously Nationwide) Inpatient Sample data.

Results: After the 2009 SNAP increase, Medicaid admission growth fell nationally from 0.80 to 0.35 percentage points per month (a difference of -0.45; 95% CI, -0.72 to -0.19), adjusting for enrollment. After the 2013 SNAP decrease, admission growth rose to 2.42 percentage points per month (a difference of 2.07; 95% CI, 0.68 to 3.46). Inflation-adjusted monthly Medicaid expenditures followed similar patterns and were associated with $26.5 billion (in 2006 dollars) in reduced expenditures over the 55 months of the SNAP increase, and $6.4 billion (in 2006 dollars) in additional expenditures over the first 14 months after the SNAP decrease. Effects were elevated for Medicaid compared with Medicare recipients and among people with a high likelihood of having a disability.

Conclusion: Although alternative causal explanations warrant consideration, changes in SNAP benefit levels were associated with changes in inpatient Medicaid usage and cost patterns.

Sonik RA, Parish SL, Mitra M. Inpatient Medicaid usage and expenditure patterns after changes in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit levels. Prev Chronic Dis. 2018;15:E120. PMID: 30289106. DOI: 10.5888/pcd15.180185.

Publication Year: 
2018
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Food/Hunger
Population: 
Medicaid-insured
Outcomes: 
Cost
Screening Research: 
No