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October 17, 2006

Managed Care Boosts Access to Health Services for Children Enrolled in Maryland Medicaid

UMBC Researcher Todd Eberly Wins National Dissertation Award

The Maryland Medicaid managed care program has had a positive impact on the receipt of preventive health services by black, white, and Hispanic children and adolescents, as well as black and Hispanic adults, according to a new study from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Following a nationwide trend, Maryland implemented the HealthChoice managed care program in 1998 as a means to control Medicaid costs. Under managed care, the state contracts with private insurers to provide preventative health care services to Medicaid enrollees, such as well child visits, immunizations, and physicals. However, there had been conflicting research on whether managed care meets the needs of socially vulnerable populations, particularly minorities.

Medicaid currently covers 600,000 Maryland residents, including 30 percent of the state’s children. Studies have shown that a significantly larger percentage of black and Hispanic Americans are covered by Medicaid than white Americans, but these populations make less use of routine health procedures and services. These disparities in the use of health care services are significant because studies have shown that a lack of preventive care puts disadvantaged populations at greater risk of serious health problems later in life.

Todd Eberly, a researcher at the Center for Health Program Development and Management at UMBC, analyzed health care data for Medicaid clients in Maryland before and after the adoption of managed care to determine whether the program has had any impact on the preventive care use.

He found that Maryland’s managed care program has had a positive impact on the receipt of primary preventive care by black, white, and Hispanic children and adolescents, as well as black and Hispanic adults. All children and adolescents experienced increases in the use of preventative health services, but increases for black and Hispanic youths were significantly greater than for their white peers.

“The improvements for minority youth were particularly noteworthy,” said Eberly, “because children are especially vulnerable. Access to preventive care is key to the promotion of good heath and quality of life.”

Eberly, who received his Ph.D. in Public Policy at UMBC in 2006, conducted the research for his dissertation, which has been selected for the 2006 Annual Dissertation Award from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). He will receive his award this week in Minneapolis at the NASPAA Annual Conference.

Posted by crose at October 17, 2006 3:23 PM