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New U-M Study Shows that the Healthy Michigan Plan Improves Enrollees’ Health, Quality of Life and Ability to Work

A new study by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI) finds that nearly half of people covered by Healthy Michigan Plan (HMP) – the state’s expanded Medicaid program – felt their physical health improved within the first year or two after they enrolled in the program. Almost 40% reported that their mental or dental health had improved. See key findings below.

Edith Kieffer, Professor of Social Work, who serves as the study’s co-investigator on the evaluation team, led the qualitative and dental data analyses. Renuka Tipirneni, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, is the lead author of this study. John Z. Ayanian, IHPI director, leads the interdisciplinary evaluations team, which includes 17 U-M faculty members from across multiple schools and departments.

Kieffer notes that “Michigan has asked federal permission for work requirements for HMP enrollees, to begin in 2020. Similar requirements in Arkansas have already led to loss of coverage for thousands of enrollees. Many Michigan enrollees face both health and other barriers to employment, including criminal convictions. The results of our evaluation emphasize that HMP coverage reduces many of these barriers and is key to improving Michigan’s enrollees’ health status, ability of work and quality of life.”

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, is based on a telephone survey with 4,090 HMP enrollees and in-depth qualitative interviews with 67 participants. 

Key Findings:

  • 47.8% of respondents reported better physical health, 38.2% better mental health, and 39.5% better dental health since HMP enrollment.
  • Among employed respondents, 69.4% reported HMP helped them do a better job at work.
  • Among out-of-work respondents, 54.5% agreed HMP made them better able to look for a job.
  • Among respondents who changed jobs, 36.9% agreed HMP helped them get a better job.
  • In interviews, several HMP enrollees attributed their ability to get or maintain employment to improved physical, mental, and dental health because of services covered by HMP.  
  • Remaining barriers to work cited by enrollees included older age, disability, illness, and caregiving responsibilities.

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