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Medicaid Expansion Enhances Financial and Mental Well-Being, Study Says
Date:5/1/2013

e, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted more than 12,000 in-person interviews and health exams of lottery participants in the Portland, Ore., area about two years after the lottery.

"It's not just another study on Medicaid; it's the first randomized, controlled study of Medicaid," said lead author Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics in the department of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

When comparing outcomes of the people selected to apply for Medicaid with those who were not selected, the researchers found that:

  • Use of health services increased among Medicaid enrollees. "People go to the doctor more, they use more prescription drugs, they go to the hospital more, they get more preventive care," Baicker said.
  • Medicaid enrollment improved access to care, sharply increasing some preventive health screenings, including mammography for women and PSA testing for men.
  • Medicaid nearly eliminated "catastrophic" expenditures -- out-of-pocket medical expenses exceeding 30 percent of income. "It's important to remember that Medicaid is not just about access to health care," Baicker added. "Like any insurance product, it's also supposed to protect you from financial ruin if you have a high medical expense."
  • The rate of depression dropped by 30 percent among people with Medicaid versus people without insurance who screened positive for depression. The authors don't offer an explanation for this, but the study noted that having Medicaid led to an increase in the probability of receiving a diagnosis of depression. "The suggestion is that there were people walking around with undiagnosed depression who were then treated," Baicker said.
  • Medicaid's impact on physical health -- specifically high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood-sugar levels (indicating diabetes) -- was less clear-cut. The research
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Medicaid Expansion Enhances Financial and Mental Well-Being, Study Says
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