Medicaid's Murky Health Benefits


Over the weekend, The New York Times editorial board offered an unsigned editorial defending Medicaid on the basis of the results of the first year of the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment. After declaring that the study refutes claims that those on Medicaid would be better off with no insurance at all, the Times offers this helpful caveat:

The critics rightly point out that just because the Medicaid enrollees reported that their health was better does not mean that it actually was better. In the second year, researchers are measuring actual blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and other physical data.

Self-reported health did improve for Medicaid enrollees in the Oregon study. But as the caveat above makes clear, it would be a mistake to claim definitively that health objectively improved because of Medicaid. Nevertheless, this is essentially what the Times editorial does in its final paragraph, when it argues that "any politicians eager to find savings by denying poor people access to Medicaid should recognize that they will be harming the health and financial well-being of highly vulnerable Americans." [Bold added.] Perhaps the health of Medicaid enrollees would be harmed. But perhaps not; a year into the Oregon experiment, we still don't really know, and there's some evidence to suggest that the advances in self-reported health are largely a result of health insurance's psychic benefits rather than true phsyical improvements. 

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  1. there’s some evidence to suggest that the advances in self-reported health are largely a result of health insurance’s psychic benefits rather than true phsyical improvements.

    In order to believe that, you would have to believe health “insurance” is not the same as health “care”.

    Which would, of course, make you an obstructionist monster.

  2. A woman I worked with once told me that having a child on Medicare was her primary motivation to learn skills that would allow her to get a decent job.

    She was a good MS Access programmer, btw.

  3. Need to study the impact on my health from having my money confiscated to support medicaid. I feel more suicidal just because of it.

  4. After declaring that the study refutes claims that those on Medicaid would be better off with no insurance at all

    My my the NYT editorial board is setting its sights high, isn’t it? If you spend $300 billion on something you sort of expect results to be “clear” and “unambiguous”. If you are simply measuring how people “feel”, spend a few thou on giving all of those people sugar pills and save some money.

  5. Exactly how could anyone’s health get harmed by not having Medicaid?

    Health is what one has from eating right, exercising, learning to control one’s own mind, pushing toward self-actualization.

    Medicine is what people seek when they’re sick and not when they’re healthy.

    The only measures of efficacy worthy of study is how much disease eradication can anyone attribute to Medicaid.

    If anyone is trying to link government doled welfare to health, they ought to look at programs that might help to do so, if any.

    Some program candidates might be SNAP, Section 8 and Pell Grants.

  6. This special program was launched in 2010 and was originally expected to run out of money before it could cover everyone who needed it. But the opposite happened. People with pre-existing conditions either didn’t know about this plan or didn’t care to take part. Less than 20,000 people have signed up across the country. learn at “Penny Health” for your self

  7. Why didn’t the author of this article cover the fact that both, state and federal ‘medicare’ programs fail to cover med necessary dental services to preserve health (ei badly needed extractions) and the private contractors who are elected by medicare refuse to enroll medicare recipients based upon them living off-the grid or if they are stereotyped as being homeless ?

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