Medicaid Proves Its Worth in Oklahoma

Taking care of the young[Download full issue brief]

[Download 2-page fact sheet]

System is Far From ‘Broken’ and is Ready to Handle Expansion

Accepting federal dollars to extend Medicaid would provide substantial economic benefits to Oklahoma, save the state millions of dollars that now go to cover the cost of caring for those without insurance, create new jobs in health care and related fields, and generate significant new tax revenues. The vast bulk of the cost – more than 90 percent – would be covered by the federal government.

Despite these compelling benefits, some assert that Oklahoma would be better off not expanding Medicaid. Critics claim that Medicaid is an “outdated program” and “a broken system.” In reality, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, SoonerCare, is an indispensable cornerstone of the state’s health care system, providing affordable, efficient care to hundreds of thousands of low-income children, expecting mothers, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Oklahoma’s Medicaid program has proven its worth in many ways:

Medicaid is a cost-effective health insurance programspending-growth

Medicaid costs have risen at a more modest pace than total health expenditures or premiums for employer-sponsored coverage.  Per capita costs for Medicaid patients are substantially less than for those covered by private health insurance. Oklahoma’s Medicaid costs are well below the national average.

Medicaid recipients have access to a broad-based provider network.

There are over 34,000 medical providers with a SoonerCare contract. The program’s network of primary care physicians have capacity to serve more than twice as many SoonerCare patients as are currently enrolled in the program.

Medicaid pays providers fairly and competitively.

Oklahoma’s provider rates are among the nation’s highest. Most doctors are paid at 96.5 percent of Medicare rates, while those affiliated with the state’s medical schools are reimbursed at over 140 percent of Medicare rates.

Medicaid patients are satisfied with the service.

Surveys of Oklahoma Medicaid patients consistently show high levels of satisfaction with their care. Among adult SoonerCare patients,91 percent rated their satisfaction with the program as “above average”.

Oklahoma’s Medicaid program has developed high-quality, cost-effective programs.

Oklahoma has implemented a number of programs in recent years to improve the quality of care and service for Medicaid patients andto reward providers for better, more cost-effective care. Oklahoma’s online eligibility and enrollment system is one of the most advanced in the nation.

Medicaid coverage leads to better health outcomes.

Recent research has convincingly established that Medicaid provides wide-ranging benefits in terms of access to health care, physical and mental health outcomes, and the financial stability of families.

  • Click here to download the full issue brief as a PDF
  • Click here for the two-page summary
  • Click here for our other resources and analysis on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act


Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. David has been selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

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