"Medicaid is Health Overhaul's Early Success Story" & Other Awful Obamacare Outcomes

As President Obama's signature legislative accomplishment (read: debacle bigger than stimulus, debt, TARP, kill lists, etc.) continues to founder, expect more misinformed stories such as this one from the AP:

Medicaid is health overhaul's early success story

The underdog of government health care programs is emerging as the rare early success story of President Barack Obama's technologically challenged health overhaul.

Often dismissed, Medicaid has signed up 444,000 people in 10 states in the six weeks since open enrollment began, according to Avalere Health, a market analysis firm that compiled data from those states. Twenty-five states are expanding their Medicaid programs, but data for all of them was not available....

Read the article here.

This is not good news either for recipients of Medicaid or for taxpayers footing the bill for the program's expansion.

It can't be said enough that there is little evidence that Medicaid improves health outcomes:

There’s little evidence that Medicaid coverage improves the health and longevity of beneficiaries. For instance, a major 2010 University of Virginia study found that for patients undergoing major surgical procedures, those on Medicaid were 93 percent more likely to die than patients with private insurance, while the uninsured were just 74 percent more likely to die. Such awful outcomes for Medicaid patients are found in a variety of studies looking at cancer, heart problems, and other maladies.

Evidence from the widely respected Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, which compared the health of Medicaid recipients to a control group, found “that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first 2 years.” Such results are broadly consistent with findings that insurance status has little or no impact on longevity. In 2009, for instance, Columbia economist Frank Lichtenburg published a study looking at longevity in states between 1991 and 2004 and concluded that “growth in life expectancy was uncorrelated across states with health insurance coverage and education.”

If it's not clear that Medicaid helps people get and stay healthy, one thing is for sure: The program, which is already either the single-biggest or second-biggest annual budget item for every state in the country, spends huge amounts of money and that will only increase.

Medicaid has for a long time posted year-over-year spending increases. Between 2000 and 2011 (PDF), the average increase was 6.8 percent and total expenditures on the program came to $432 billion in 2011 (PDF). The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that annual increases will average about 6.4 percent until 2021, when the federal government and states will spend $795 billion on the program.

Read more here.

You got that? "The rare early success story" of Obamacare is that a massively expensive program that doesn't actually accomplish its core objective has jacked up the number of people enrolled in it. The one benefit of Medicaid is that it reduces the likelihood of medically induced bankruptcy for some recipients. There's an easier and more effective way to accomplish that.

So break out the champagne because Medicaid is booming? We really can't afford to do that now and will be even less likely in a few years.

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  • wareagle||

    when signing people up for Medicaid is hailed, that could be a clue.

  • Ivoted4KODOS||

    Why does Reason hate poor people. And CHILDRENZZ!!!

  • Ted S.||

    The one benefit of Medicaid is that it reduces the likelihood of medically induced bankruptcy for some recipients. There's an easier and more effective way to accomplish that.

    Wait until the bankruptcy law is changed to make medical debt non-dischargeable.

  • R C Dean||

    I hope I don't have to wait too long.

  • CuriousKevMo||

    How could Medicaid be reducing the rate of medically induced bankruptcy....isn't it a program for poor folks?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...patients undergoing major surgical procedures, those on Medicaid were 93 percent more likely to die than patients with private insurance...

    Sounds like the feds just need to get more Medicaid patients into major surgery, then the problem solves itself!

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Good to see that Government is still capable of performing its core function of signing people up to get "free" stuff.

  • Tony||

    Clearly taking away Medicaid would result in better health outcomes for poor people. I suggest taking the "let them die in the streets" healthcare plan to the national stage where we can all take a good look at it.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    "Medicaid is exceeding expectations in most places," said Dan Mendelson, Avalere's president. "It is definitely a bright picture in states that have chosen to expand."

    What a shock--the Free Shit Army welcomes the chance for more Free Shit with open arms.

    Simply pathetic. How the fark is exponentially growing the number of recipients who will pay little to nothing into the system supposed to shrink the cost of healthcare?

    Answer: It won't, but never let it be said that government bureaucrats are any good at math.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Per capita healthcare spending, inflation-adjusted, before public and private insurance plans became the de facto payment mechanism for healthcare:

    1960: $1,162
    1970: $2,148
    1980: $3,154
    2011: $8,680

    http://www.cms.gov/Research-St.....tables.pdf

    The math and government data shows that the increasing use of insurance does not, in fact, lower the real cost of healthcare, even on an inflation-adjusted basis.

  • some guy||

    Tony was only talking about saving the lives of poor people. The cost of saving those lives never enters into it when other peoples' money is being spent.

  • R C Dean||

    Clearly taking away Medicaid would result in better health outcomes for poor people.

    Welp, looks like the science is settled. Why do you hate science, Tony?

  • KeithC||

    You have to understand, RC, that the "FACTS!" and "SCIENCE!" meme on the left only applies when the empirical evidence fits a preconceived belief. It's also another example of intentions always and forever trumping actual results.

  • R C Dean||

    You wanna know an additional punchline?

    Here in AZ, Medicaid expansion is being funded by a tax on hospitals. Because of that, my hospital (one of two safety net hospitals in town) is looking at doing a little better than breakeven, and could well lose money. So the massive expense isn't going to improve health outcomes for the po', and isn't even going to help my hospital's bottom line.

  • ChrisO||

    If that's success, I'd hate to see what failure looks like.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Give it a year or two until ObamaCare fully kicks in.

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