Medicaid’s big spenders, in one chart

at 01:11 PM ET, 02/24/2012

Aaron Carroll has put together this helpful graph to show whom, exactly, Medicaid dollars go toward covering. And as you can see above, blind, disabled and elderly beneficiaries of the program cost a lot more to cover than adults and children. That, Carroll argues, makes it hard to bring down Medicaid costs without making cuts affecting those populations:

If we cut 1 million elderly from the Medicaid rolls, we reduce Medicaid spending by about 5%. If we cut 1 million adults, however, we reduce Medicaid spending by only 1%. We need to cut 5 times as many adults. If we want to cut Medicaid spending by 10% (which is far less than some propose), we’d need to drop more than 10 million adults from Medicaid. That’s almost three-quarters of all of them. If we want to cut overall Medicaid spending by 20%, then we’d need to drop all non-elderly adults, including all pregnant women, as well as about 10 million kids, or more than a third of them.

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