The results of a yearlong study of the effects of Medicaid on patient’s lives have been released. The federal health care program has been receiving more attention from legislators recently, both in the effort to discover more ways to cut funding to the program and revamp its existing regulations. The study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research may put a halt to some of the plans proposed by politicians regarding the stability of the program. It may also shed light on how beneficial the program is to patients.
The study was made possible by a rare event that occurred in Oregon nearly three years ago. The state sought to expand its Medicaid program to include an additional 10,000 people. More than 90,000 signed up in hopes of receiving coverage. The overwhelming numbers spurred legislators to hold a sort of lottery to determine which of the 90,000 would receive coverage. This gave researchers an opportunity to study that was too good to pass up. And so, they began investigating how health insurance changed the lives of those with access to care.
The findings of the study show that, universally, those with health insurance enjoy a higher quality of life than those without. Those that had been chosen to receive coverage made use of it extensively, adding 25% to their annual expenditures. They were also 35% more likely to schedule regular doctor visits. Women received 60% more mammograms and another 55% had a family physician that they visited often.
These findings imply that Medicaid, as well as other health insurance programs, are vastly beneficial to those able to take advantage of them. The results have been passed on to Congress so that legislators can be made aware of the necessity of such programs. However, legislators have yet to be swayed in their efforts to reduce spending on a national level.