Friday, May 3, 2013

Does health insurance improve health?

No, but it does improve financial well-being. 

Another large scale randomized study among low-income, able bodied Oregonians tested the effects of Medicaid.  Here is what they found:

“The study did not generate any evidence that Medicaid coverage translated to measurable improvements in physical health outcomes over a two-year window,” said lead researcher Katherine Baicker of the Harvard School of Public Health. “It did generate robust improvements in mental health and enormous reductions in financial strain and hardship.”

I dont want to keep picking on Esther Duflo, but she is the only one I know in the administration that  advocates such randomized trials to evaluate policy.  She has been appointed to the administration policy council.  Will she recommend policy changes based on the science?

1 comment:

  1. Health insurance provides more of a probability of better health than not having health insurance at all. Most low income individuals don't see a physician because they either can't afford it or don't have access to the care in their area. In an instance like this there are random variable that need to be taken into account that aren't readily prevalent. Variables such as transportation to the physician's office, the affordability of child care to watch your children when going to see a physician, and whether a physician in your area takes Medicaid as an insurance provider, as not all physician's will take this insurance.

    I do agree that health insurance does in fact improve financial well being as health care cost are quite costly. Having coverage limits your individual costs and more than not you are only usually responsible for the co-pay. Individuals who don't have insurance and need emergency medical care will be stuck with a bill they cannot afford. They may feel better health wise but financially will be devastated as the inability to pay could lead to collection notices and negative effects on their credit.