The Opioid Epidemic Blunted the Mortality Benefit of Medicaid Expansion

Brandon W. Yan, Frank A. Sloan, W. John Boscardin, Felicia Guo, R. Adams Dudley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion reduced uninsurance, less is known about its impact on mortality, especially in the context of the opioid epidemic. We conducted a difference-in-differences study comparing trends in mortality between expansion and nonexpansion states from 2011 to 2016 using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mortality data. We analyzed all-cause deaths, health care amenable deaths, drug overdose deaths, and deaths from causes other than drug overdose among adults aged 20 to 64 years. Medicaid expansion was associated with a 2.7% reduction (p =.020) in health care amenable mortality, and a 1.9% reduction (p =.042) in mortality not due to drug overdose. However, the expansion was not associated with any change in all-cause mortality (0.2% reduction, p =.84). In addition, drug overdose deaths rose more sharply in expansion versus nonexpansion states. The absence of all-cause mortality reduction until drug overdose deaths were excluded indicate that the opioid epidemic had a mitigating impact on any potential lives saved by Medicaid expansion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Care Research and Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 13 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Medicaid
  • health care reform
  • health disparities
  • mortality
  • opioid epidemic


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