r/Health – Medicaid could save $2.6 billion within a year if just 1% of its recipients quit smoking, according to new research by UCSF.

The title of the post is a copy and paste from the title of the linked academic press release here:

Medicaid Could Save $2.6 Billion Within a Year if Just 1 Percent of Recipients Quit Smoking

Journal Reference:

Glantz SA.

Estimation of 1-Year Changes in Medicaid Expenditures Associated With Reducing Cigarette Smoking Prevalence by 1%.

JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(4):e192307.


Link: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2730483

Key Points

Question What are the expected changes to Medicaid costs the following year associated with reducing absolute cigarette smoking prevalence in each state by 1%?

Findings This economic evaluation found that, based on observed short-run elasticity between changes in smoking and health care expenditures, estimated Medicaid savings in the year following a 1% reduction of smoking prevalence would total $2.6 billion, with median state savings of $25 million.

Meaning Reducing cigarette smoking could contribute to lowering Medicaid costs in the short run.


Importance Reducing smoking is associated with a reduction in health care costs, including in the short run. Medicaid recipients smoke at higher rates than the general population, which suggests that investments to reduce smoking in this population would reduce short-run Medicaid costs.

Objective To estimate the short-run (1-year) change in health care expenditure associated with a 1% decrease in absolute smoking prevalence in all US states.

Design, Setting, and Participants Economic evaluation based on state Medicaid expenditures and the elasticity between changes in smoking prevalence and health care costs. Data sources were the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System, 2017 National Health Interview Survey, and Kaiser Family Foundation Total Medicaid Spending for fiscal year 2017. Analysis was conducted in 2018. Participants were all people receiving Medicaid in all US states and the District of Columbia.

Exposures Cigarette smoking.

Main Outcomes and Measures Short-run (1-year) change in health care costs.

Results Reducing absolute smoking prevalence by 1% in each state was associated with substantial Medicaid savings the following year, totaling $2.6 billion (in 2017 dollars). Each state saved a median (interquartile range) of $25 million ($8 million to $35 million).

Conclusions and Relevance Effective efforts to reducing smoking could be a cost-effective way to reduce Medicaid costs in the short run.

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