Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

US Healthcare: Medicaid increases use of health care, decreases financial strain, improves health

Date:
July 7, 2011
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
Researchers have found that expanding low income adults' access to Medicaid substantially increases health care use, reduces financial strain on covered individuals, and improves their self-reported health and well-being.

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and Providence Health & Services have found that expanding low income adults' access to Medicaid substantially increases health care use, reduces financial strain on covered individuals, and improves their self-reported health and well-being. This is the first study to evaluate the impact of insuring the uninsured in the U.S. using a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard in medical and scientific studies.

The study was released as working paper 17190 on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) on July 7, 2011 (www.nber.org).

"This study shows that Medicaid substantially expands access to and use of care for low-income adults relative to being uninsured," said Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at HSPH and co-principal investigator of the study. Medicaid, which is jointly funded by the federal and state governments, covers the health care costs of eligible low-income individuals and families. The 2010 Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid to cover additional low income adults in all states in 2014.

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 available openings. The researchers collected data on the lottery participants from many sources -- including hospital records and mail surveys -- and compared outcomes between those randomly selected by the lottery and those not selected in order to determine the impact of Medicaid.

Although many previous studies compare health or health care use between the insured and uninsured, inferring the impact of health insurance from such comparisons is difficult because differences between the insured and uninsured, such as in income, employment, or initial health, may affect the health and health care outcomes studied. This study is the first to avoid this problem by taking advantage of the random assignment created by the Oregon lottery.

Based on the first year of this ongoing study, some of the key findings show that Medicaid coverage:

Increases health care use:

  • Increases the likelihood of using outpatient care by 35%, using prescription drugs by 15%, and being admitted to the hospital by 30%, but does not seem to have an effect on use of emergency departments. This translates into about a 25% increase in annual health care spending.
  • Increases the use of recommended preventive care such as mammograms by 60% and cholesterol monitoring by 20%.
  • Increases access to care: Increases the probability individuals report having a regular office or clinic for their primary care by 70% and the likelihood they report having a particular doctor that they usually see by 55%.
  • Reduces financial strain: Decreases the probability of having to borrow money or skip paying other bills to pay for health care by 40%, and decreases the probability of having an unpaid medical bill sent to a collection agency by 25%. Declines in unpaid medical bills also benefit health care providers, since the vast majority of such debts are never paid.
  • Improves reported health: Increases the probability that people report themselves in good to excellent health (compared with fair or poor health) by 25% and increases the probability of not being depressed by 10%.

"Some people wonder whether Medicaid coverage has any effect. The study findings make clear that it does. People reported that their physical and mental health were substantially better after a year of insurance coverage, and they were much less likely to have to borrow money or go into debt to pay for their care," said Amy Finkelstein, professor of economics at MIT and co-principal investigator of the study.

The current study is part of a broader research program that will follow the lottery participants for an additional year and will also directly measure health outcomes, including cholesterol, diabetic blood sugar control, blood pressure, and obesity.

Additional authors include: Sarah Taubman, NBER; Bill Wright, Providence Health & Services; Mira Bernstein, NBER; Jonathan Gruber, MIT and NBER, Joseph P. Newhouse, HSPH, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Kennedy School, and NBER; Heidi Allen, Providence Health & Services; and the Oregon Health Study Group.

Support for the study was provided by the National Institute on Aging, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (Department of Health and Human Services), California HealthCare Foundation, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sloan Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, and U.S. Social Security Administration. The study was conducted with the cooperation of the State of Oregon.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "US Healthcare: Medicaid increases use of health care, decreases financial strain, improves health." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707082052.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2011, July 7). US Healthcare: Medicaid increases use of health care, decreases financial strain, improves health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707082052.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "US Healthcare: Medicaid increases use of health care, decreases financial strain, improves health." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707082052.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins