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Washington – It’s one of Medicaid’s challenges.

While low-income people are more likely to struggle with health problems such as smoking and depression, new research shows many are motivated to improve.

Thursday’s study from the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index found that 40 percent of people on Medicaid say they’re in fair or poor health, compared with 11 percent of those with workplace coverage.

The analysis for The Associated Press also showed that Medicaid recipients are invested in their health, with 4 out of 5 saying they have a personal doctor, 3 out of 5 saying they eat healthy, and nearly half saying they exercise frequently.

Medicaid could gain by putting more emphasis on prevention, and stressing better coordination of care, experts say. Such strategies are already employed by many workplace health plans and by Medicare.

Medicaid is a federal-state program originally envisioned as a safety net for poor families and severely disabled people. Today, it covers about 1 in 5 Americans, at a total cost of about $600 billion annually. In states that expanded Medicaid under former President Barack Obama’s health law, it’s become the insurer for many low-income working adults. The Trump administration tried to unravel Obama’s expansion.

“We now have emerging evidence in Medicare and commercial insurance of how care coordination and prevention can help patients with chronic conditions avoid costly hospitalizations and ER visits,” said Kavita Patel, a policy expert at the Brookings Institution who’s also a physician.

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