Oregon Medicaid patients report better health


A study showing Oregonians receiving Medicaid are in better health than uninsured people is garnering national attention.

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A study showing Oregonians receiving Medicaid are in better health than uninsured people is garnering national attention, including from the New York Times.

The research was made possible by unusual circumstances in Oregon, where officials had only enough money to expand Medicaid enrollments by about 10,000 people in 2008. They used a lottery to decide who got coverage among the almost 90,000 people who applied. That made it possible to conduct a “gold standard” clinical trial in which two randomly selected groups with the same demographic characteristics could be compared — those who won the lottery and those who did not. None of the studies cited by the critics had randomly selected control groups.

The Oregon study provides striking results for its first year. The group that gained Medicaid coverage was significantly more likely to have received care from a hospital or a doctor, or to use prescription drugs, belying the notion that enrollees could not find providers. The insured group was far more likely to get preventive care, like mammograms, and to have a regular doctor.

Those people were also more likely to report being in better physical and mental health. And they were better off financially: less likely to pay out of pocket, have unpaid medical bills sent to collection agencies, or need to borrow money or ignore other bills to pay for medical care.

Read more from the New York Times opinion piece.

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