Medicaid could save $ 2.6 billion in one year if only 1% of beneficiaries quit smoking

UCSF research would allow the median state to save about $ 25 million in Medicaid expenditures


Elizabeth Fernandez

Reducing smoking and the associated health effects of Medicaid beneficiaries in each state by only 1% would save a total of $ 2.6 billion over the next year, according to a new study by UC San Francisco.

The median state would save $ 25 million, ranging from $ 630.2 million in California (if the smoking rate went from 15.5% to 14.5%) to $ 2.5 million in South Dakota (If the smoking rate went from 41.3 to 40.3%), the research revealed.

The study, conducted by Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, Director of the UCSF Center for Research and Education for Tobacco Control, is published April 12, 2019 JAMA Network open now.

"While 14% of all American adults smoke cigarettes, 24.5% of adult Medicaid recipients smoke," said Glantz. "This suggests that an investment in reducing smoking in this population could be associated with a reduction in Medicaid costs in the short term."

Total Medicaid costs in 2017 amounted to $ 577 billion.

"There is no doubt that reducing smoking is associated with reduced health costs, but it is widely accepted that it takes years to realize these savings, which has discouraged many states from prioritizing Help smokers to quit smoking, "Glantz said.

"While this is true for some diseases, such as cancer, other health risks, such as heart attacks, lung diseases, and pregnancy complications, respond quickly to changes in smoking behavior. Reducing the prevalence of smoking would therefore be an excellent short-term investment for the physical health of smokers and the financial health of the Medicaid system, "he said.

Percentages of Medicaid recipients who smoke, calculated from data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2017, which provides the percentage of smokers in the population of each state, and from the 2017 national survey by health interview , which identifies the Medicaid beneficiaries. in four major regions of the United States (Northeast, Midwest, South and West).

He then estimated the potential savings achieved by Medicaid based on previous research, which showed that a 1% relative reduction in smoking prevalence was associated with a 0.118% reduction in per capita health expenditure.

Glantz noted that the study only looked at potential savings resulting from the reduction in the total number of Medicaid beneficiaries who smoke. But even if each smoker smoked less, it would result in further reduction in health care costs, he said.

Cost reductions related to tobacco reduction would continue and probably increase over the long term.

"Because some health risks related to smoking, such as cancer, may take years to fully manifest, these savings are expected to increase with each year," said Glantz.

The document shows the projected reductions in Medicaid costs by each state.

For more information, visit: UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

Funding: The study was funded by grant R01DA043950 from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Disclosures: None reported.

The UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, advanced-level training in life sciences and related topics. health professions and excellence of care provided to patients. It includes leading graduate schools in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate-level division with nationally-recognized programs in the basic, biomedical, translational and demographic sciences; and a leading biomedical research company. It also includes UCSF Health, which includes three leading hospitals: the UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in San Francisco, as well as the Langley Porter Mental Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children's Physicians and Practices. of the UCSF. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF faculty also provides all medical care to the public at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Trauma Center and SF VA Medical Center. The UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program is a major branch of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

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