Medicaid: Ups self-reported good health

July 7, 2011 at 10:40 PM
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BOSTON, July 7 (UPI) -- Expanding low-income adults' access to Medicaid increases healthcare use and improves their self-reported health and well-being, U.S. researchers say.

Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Bureau of Economic Research and Providence Health & Services, evaluated the impact of insuring the uninsured using a randomized controlled trial.

In 2008, Oregon held a lottery to accept additional low-income, uninsured residents into its Medicaid program; about 90,000 applied for the 10,000 openings. The researchers collected data on the lottery participants and compared outcomes between those randomly selected by the lottery and those not selected to determine the impact of Medicaid.

The study, working paper 17190 on the Web site of the National Bureau of Economic Research, found being on Medicaid:

-- Increases the likelihood of using outpatient care by 35 percent, using prescription drugs by 15 percent and being admitted to the hospital by 30 percent, but does not seem to have an effect emergency department use.

-- Increases preventive care such as mammograms by 60 percent and cholesterol monitoring by 20 percent.

-- Increases likelihood of primary care doctor visits by 70 percent.

-- Reduces having to borrow money or skip paying other bills to pay for healthcare by 40 percent.

-- Increases the probability that people report being in good to excellent health by 25 percent and increases the probability of not being depressed by 10 percent.

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