Economists at Harvard and MIT recently examined the question of whether the expansion of Medicaid coverage under new health reform laws will translate into medical care that people need. The outcome? The results were encouraging, providing evidence that Medicaid does indeed make a very positive impact on the lives of recipients.
Medicaid, a federal-state program for low-income and severely disabled individuals, currently covers about 60 million Americans. In order to ensure a high degree of validity, this study took a random selection approach to their research, looking at 10,000 Oregonians who won state-sponsored lottery for Medicaid in 2008 and comparing them to those who applied but were not picked and remained uninsured.
Results show that Medicaid enrollees were 70% more likely to have a regular medical office or clinic for basic case, and 55% more likely to have a personal doctor. They were significantly more likely to use inpatient services, outpatient services, and prescription drugs. They were also more likely to receive preventative care including mammograms and cholesterol screening, which results in fewer expenses in the future which could fall on individuals, federal and state governments.
Furthermore, people receiving Medicaid feel better about their health. The study found that having Medicaid significantly increases the chances people will perceive their health as being good to excellent, while also decreasing the likelihood of their borrowing money or skipping on other bills in order to pay for their medical expenses.
Beginning in 2014, the new health care law will expand Medicaid coverage to more than half of the currently 30 million uninsured people in our country, including thousands of Nebraskans. The positive differences proved by Harvard and MIT will also be seen in the lives of those gaining access to the program, and benefit communities and families in Nebraska and nationwide. Nebraska Appleseed will continue to protect the Medicaid program and to promote health care reform – the difference these programs make in people’s lives is real, positive, and clear.