Megan McArdle is looking at studies that look at whether having Medicaid makes an eligible person healthier then the person who is in similar situation but not eligible. They used more health care services and paid less out of pocket, but there were not healthier!
Bombshell news out of Oregon today: a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) of what happens to people when they gain Medicaid eligibility shows no impact on objective measures of health. Utilization went up, out-of-pocket expenditure went down, and the freqency of depression diagnoses was lower. But on the three important health measures they checked that we can measure objectively--glycated hemoglobin, a measure of blood sugar levels; blood pressure; and cholesterol levels--there was no significant improvement.
I know: sounds boring. Glycated hemoglobin! I might as well be one of the adults on Charlie Brown going wawawawawawa . . . and you fell asleep, didn't you?
But this is huge news if you care about health care policy--and given the huge national experiment we're about to embark on, you'd better. Bear with me.