June 21 2013
Oregon Study: Health Insurance Doesn't Improve Health
ObamaCare is built on the notion that having health insurance is the key to obtaining good medical attention.
But does having a health insurance care in your wallet actually lead to better medical care?
Michael Barone writes today about an Oregon study that suggests good medical attention and an insurance card are not necessarily conected:
The Oregon Health Study, published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine, found much the same thing [as an earlier RAND Corporation study that found no differences that could be measured statistically between those with and without health insurance]. Comparing three important measures -- blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels -- It found no significant difference after two years between those on Medicaid and those who were uninsured.
It did find lower levels of reported depression among the group on Medicaid. And it found, unsurprisingly, that they did save significant money. Those findings may not be unrelated.
As Barone observes, the Oregon findings have “serious implications” for ObamaCare. Part of the thinking underlying ObamaCare was that those who are poor and sick would have greater obstacles to receiving medical attention if they didn’t have insurance (Medicaid). But the study found that this was not the case.
It may just be that ordinary people, even those with significant problems, are more capable of navigating the seas of American life than elites, either liberal or conservative, tend to assume.
These results run contrary to the predictions of many Obamacare fans, who expected to see more positive effects from Medicaid coverage. It undermines at least a little the case for Obamacare's vast expansion of Medicaid.
Barone then addresses one of my pet peeves: if you want to use correct definitions, policies that deal with routine procedures (tests for cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels) isn’t really insurance. Lloyd’s of London didn’t insure ships so that they could get ordinary repairs by forking over a small co-pay—Lloyds insured for catastrophes.
We now expect “insurance” policies that cover everyday medical expenses. But these are the expenses we are most likely to be able to pay for ourselves. They are also the services most likely to be abused if we don’t have to pay for them out of our own pockets. Cancer or an injury is another matter. Most of us are ill-equipped to handle the financial aspects of such unexpected occurrences.
ObamaCare puts an emphasis on “preventative” medicine such as cholesterol tests, but it makes it much harder to buy a policy for catastrophic care—the kind of medical attention that carries a ruinous price tag. The terrible truth about ObamaCare is that, after all the national turmoil surrounding it, it is highly unlikely that it will improve health care.