PuppyCare for All?


Courtesy Peter Suderman

Following up on the study last week that found no significant physical health improvements associated with Medicaid coverage, The Transom's Ben Domenech suggests a four-legged alternative: 

The primary focus of the Oregon study was on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. But there are a host of other things, things that have nothing to do with government health care, that have positive impacts on blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and depression. One example from today's New York Times: owning a dog. http://vlt.tc/unl  "The nation's largest cardiovascular health organization has a new message for Americans: Owning a dog may protect you from heart disease. The unusual message was contained in a scientific statement published on Thursday by the American Heart Association, which convened a panel of experts to review years of data on the cardiovascular benefits of owning a pet. The group concluded that owning a dog, in particular, was probably associated with a reduced risk of heart disease." In fact, just interacting with a dog has been shown to lower your blood pressure. http://vlt.tc/unn  And pet ownership generally shows all sorts of positive effects when it comes to warding off depression. http://vlt.tc/uno 

This is more than a little glib, and the observational research noted by The New York Times doesn't come close to matching the rigor of the Oregon study. But given the arguments now being made by Medicaid's defenders — that the Oregon study showed that Medicaid substantially reduced positive screenings for depression, insulated beneficiaries from catastrophic health expenses, and resulted in far higher self-reported health status — it's worth asking: What else could achieve those same effects? If Medicaid coverage is good because it cheers people up, and keeps them from losing everything paying for ultra expensive treatments, then a puppy, perhaps paired with a catastrophic health plan, might come close to achieving a similar effect.