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GVSU, Tulane researchers report more access to health care

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Posted on January 11, 2019

Researchers from Grand Valley State and Tulane universities report more people in West Michigan and Detroit have access to health care because of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.

Kevin Callison, assistant professor of public health and tropical medicine at Tulane, and Sebastian Linde, assistant professor of economics at GVSU, reported results from the Health Check report, which analyzes health care access, risk factors and demographic data from Kent, Ottawa, Allegan and Muskegon counties and compares data to U.S. and Michigan results. 

Their report highlighted the 10th annual West Michigan Health Care Economic Forecast, held January 11 at the Eberhard Center.

Callison said the number of adults in West Michigan and Detroit lacking health insurance decreased in 2016, the latest reporting year, from 2011 figures. In West Michigan, 7.3 percent of adults lack health insurance, compared to 12.3 percent in 2011; in Detroit, 8.6 percent of adults lack health insurance, compared to nearly 17 percent in 2011.

"As a result of increased insurance coverage, access to a routine source of care has increased," Callison said.

Callison and Linde also found medical expenditures for chronic conditions decreased in West Michigan. The average expenditures for someone diagnosed with coronary artery disease fell by 13 percent from 2016 to 2017. They noted, however, data received from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, and Priority Health does not allow for determining causes of the decline.

Health risk factors for Michigan residents were analyzed. Selected factors are listed below.

• More than 35 percent of adults in West Michigan and Detroit are overweight, and about 30 percent are considered obese in both locations.

• Slightly more than 7 percent of adults in West Michigan are heavy drinkers, compared to less than 6 percent of Detroit adults.

• Reports of binge drinking (more than five drinks for men at one occasion) dropped slightly from 2015 results to 19 percent for West Michigan adults, while the number for Detroit adults rose slightly to 19 percent.

The entire report will be posted online at gvsu.edu/vphealth. Data was provided by Spectrum Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, and Priority Health.