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Policy makers have paid considerable attention to the financial implications of insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but there is little evidence of the law's potential health effects. To gain insight into these effects, we analyzed data for 1999-2012 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to evaluate relationships between health insurance and the diagnosis and management of diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension. People with insurance had significantly higher probabilities of diagnosis than matched uninsured people, by 14 percentage points for diabetes and hypercholesterolemia and 9 percentage points for hypertension. Among those with existing diagnoses, insurance was associated with significantly lower hemoglobin A1c (-0.58 percent), total cholesterol (-8.0 mg/dL), and systolic blood pressure (-2.9 mmHg). If the number of nonelderly Americans without health insurance were reduced by half, we estimate that there would be 1.5 million more people with a diagnosis of one or more of these chronic conditions and 659,000 fewer people with uncontrolled cases. Our findings suggest that the ACA could have significant effects on chronic disease identification and management, but policy makers need to consider the possible implications of those effects for the demand for health care services and spending for chronic disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Health Aff (Millwood)

Publication Date





1554 - 1562


Access To Care, Determinants Of Health, Epidemiology, Health Reform, Insurance Coverage < Insurance, Adult, Chronic Disease, Databases, Factual, Diabetes Mellitus, Female, Health Care Costs, Health Care Reform, Humans, Hypercholesterolemia, Hypertension, Insurance Coverage, Insurance, Health, Male, Medically Uninsured, Middle Aged, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Retrospective Studies, United States, Young Adult