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Medicaid increases use of health care, decreases financial strain, improves health
Date:7/6/2011

Boston, MA -- Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and Providence Health & Services have found that expanding low income adults' access to Medicaid substantially increases health care use, reduces financial strain on covered individuals, and improves their self-reported health and well-being. This is the first study to evaluate the impact of insuring the uninsured in the U.S. using a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard in medical and scientific studies.

The study will be released as working paper 17190 on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) on July 7, 2011 (www.nber.org).

"This study shows that Medicaid substantially expands access to and use of care for low-income adults relative to being uninsured," said Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at HSPH and co-principal investigator of the study. Medicaid, which is jointly funded by the federal and state governments, covers the health care costs of eligible low-income individuals and families. The 2010 Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid to cover additional low income adults in all states in 2014.

In 2008, Oregon held a lottery to accept additional low-income, uninsured residents into its Medicaid program; about 90,000 applied for the 10,000 available openings. The researchers collected data on the lottery participants from many sources including hospital records and mail surveys and compared outcomes between those randomly selected by the lottery and those not selected in order to determine the impact of Medicaid.

Although many previous studies compare health or health care use between the insured and uninsured, inferring the impact of health insurance from such comparisons is difficult because differences between the insured and uninsured, such as in income, employment, or init
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Contact: Marge Dwyer
mhdwyer@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-8416
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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