Due to health care reform, Alaskans like Susan have access to medical care.
Access to health care means improved health outcomes and increased productivity and independence. With Medicaid expansion:
- The number of uninsured Alaskans would be reduced by half;
- More Alaskans would receive preventative and primary care, including behavioral health services and help in managing costly chronic diseases;
- Business owners would benefit because of less turnover and fewer lost work days due to employees with unattended illnesses and injuries; and,
- Alaska’s statewide mortality rate would drop.
The bottom line is — health care coverage saves lives.
Access to health care coverage means Alaskans will receive more preventative and primary health care that can prevent death, disability and costly health services.
- Uninsured adults are less likely than insured adults to receive preventive services or screening, such as mammograms, Pap smears, or prostate screening.
- Inadequate prevention and screening increase the likelihood of preventable illness, missed diagnoses and delays in treatment.
- Chronic diseases — such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and behavioral health conditions — are among the most prevalent, costly, and preventable or controllable of all health problems.
- The five most common causes of death in Alaska are cancer, heart disease, unintentional
- Injuries, stroke and chronic lower respiratory disease. Of those, four are either preventable or treatable if caught early (cancer, heart disease, stroke, COPD).
- In 2014, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in Alaska — 106 Alaskans died from diabetes mellitus.
- Health care access also helps address some of Alaska’s most pressing social issues.
- For our prisoner and parole population, access to behavioral health care, including substance abuse treatment and mental health services, reduces offender recidivism.
- Alaska leads the country in high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault. Many survivors do not have health coverage, or lose it when they leave their abuser. Improved health care access through insurance coverage will make a positive difference in health behaviors and outcomes for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska.
- Access to Medicaid coverage is already showing a positive difference for the homeless population in other states. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, Medicaid expansion is contributing to improved access to care as well as broader benefits for homeless individuals, such as the improved capability to gain employment.
Access to health care and insurance coverage impacts everything from prevention of disease and disability, quality of life, life expectancy, and the ability of people to work and become self-sufficient.