Friday, June 22, 2012

Interesting story on the impact of health insurance

As many of you probably know, the state of Oregon recently adopted a program under Medicaid that expanded coverage to many who previously were ineligible, but it did so using a lottery. This was too good to be true for many researchers, as it created what we almost never have in the real world: a nearly perfect randomized study about the effects of carrying health coverage. An award-winning team has been studying the impact on the newly covered, and the New York Times has a story on the preliminary results. Here are the two most important conclusions thus far:
"[A]n all-star group of researchers following Ms. Parris and tens of thousands of other Oregonians has found that gaining insurance makes people healthier, happier and more financially stable. The insured also spend more on health care, dashing some hopes of preventive-medicine advocates who have argued that coverage can save money — by keeping people out of emergency rooms, for instance. In Oregon, the newly insured spent an average of $778 a year, or 25 percent, more on health care than those who did not win insurance. For the nation, the lesson appears to be a mixed one. Expanded coverage brings large benefits to many people, but it is also more likely to increase a stretched federal government’s long-term budget responsibilities."