Thursday, May 2, 2013

Oregon Surprise

Slate has just reported, "Bad News for Obamacare: A new study suggests universal health care makes people happier but not healthier".

Here's opening to the Slate piece:
In 2008, the state of Oregon initiated an ambitious health care policy that allowed researchers to shed light on the effects of guaranteeing Medicaid coverage for low-income adults. The results have been closely followed in large part because insurance for the poor is a major component of the Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare—that will soon be rolled out across the country.

A study published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that—at least as far as health outcomes are concerned—the Oregon Medicaid experiment hasn’t lived up to the hopes of many universal care advocates. Two years after getting randomly assigned to Medicaid coverage, recipients fared no better than a control group of uninsured, low-income Oregonians in tests for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes treatment—all medical conditions that can be managed with proper care. The Medicaid recipients did report much lower rates of depression and—perhaps relatedly—were much less likely to be on shaky financial footing than those in the control group. But the Oregon study’s findings indicate that the claim that universal health care on its own will make Americans healthier, at least in these particular dimensions, may be wishful thinking.
Here's the direct link to the NEJM article: "The Oregon Experiment — Effects of Medicaid on Clinical Outcomes".