Medicaid matters, and makes people healthier, study finds, contradicting argument that it’s worse than no coverage

Though the overhaul of Kentucky’s Medicaid program has its critics and could potentially be confusing to patients, the program itself is very important, acording to a new study. It found that people on Medicaid, compared to those with no insurance, “had better access to and used more health care; they were less likely to experience unpaid medical bills; they were more likely to report being in good health; and they were less likely to report feeling depressed,” National Public Radio‘s Julie Rovner reports.

“What we found in a nutshell is that having Medicaid makes a big difference in people’s lives,” said Amy Finkelstein, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and one of the study’s main researchers. “We report almost a one-third increase in the probability that you report yourself as being happy.”
The study also concluded that Medicaid recipients got outpatient care 35 percent more often than those who don’t have insurance. They also responded their had own doctor 55 percent more often and a regular office or clinic they went to 70 percent more often than people without Medicaid coverage.
The findings run counter to arguments by critics of Medicaid, including Scott Gottlieb, who wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal headlined, “Medicaid Is Worse Than No Coverage At All.”
While conservatives have long been critical of the program and liberals supportive of it, the study, being published as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, seems above political gaming; one of its researchers was an economic advisor to President George W. Bush and another an advisor to the Obama administration. (Read more)
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