A new study in Health Affairs on the Care Plus plan of association member MetroHealth System found that poor, uninsured patients who enrolled in a Medicaid-like insurance plan had better care and health outcomes than those who remained uninsured.

In addition, across all enrollees, total costs of care were 28.7 percent lower than the spending cap allowed by the federal government, according to the study, published in the journal’s July issue.

The study examined the impact of MetroHealth Care Plus, which extended Medicaid coverage to 28,295 Cuyahoga County residents before the expansion of Medicaid occurred in Ohio. The patients enrolled in the program were previously uninsured, and were provided with primary care providers, including nurses to help coordinate their care. The program launched in February 2013. Care Plus patients later transitioned to Medicaid when Ohio’s expansion began Jan. 1, 2014.

The study found that, compared with continuously uninsured patients, a greater number of Care Plus patients with diabetes improved on nationally endorsed quality of care standards, such as receiving recommended annual eye exams. High blood pressure, a risk for diabetes complications, also was better controlled among Care Plus patients than those who remained uninsured in 2013.

“MetroHealth Care Plus proved that doing the right thing – providing insurance coverage and thoughtful, coordinated, regular care – to those who were previously uninsured not only improves their health, it reduces health care costs for all of us,” MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, MD, said in a news release.