Medicaid expansion bolsters population health but at a cost, Harvard economist says

Healthcare IT News: Politicians in Washington are today furiously debating the future of the Medicaid insurance program. Meanwhile, healthcare executives and academics are exploring the results of a groundbreaking study in Oregon, the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, that examines the effects of expanding Medicaid coverage.

The Oregon experiment found that covering the uninsured increased the use of health care, including primary care, hospitalizations and emergency room visits, diminished financial strain on patients, reduced depression, and improved overall health.

“Expanding Medicaid to uninsured populations comes with substantial benefits for the populations,” said Katherine Baicker, C. Boyden Gray professor of health economics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “People who get Medicaid get better access to quality care, better health, improvements in financial security -- on many dimensions people who get Medicaid when expanded are much better off than when uninsured.”

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