From MedPage Today:
Enrolling patients in Medicaid increases their use of healthcare services, but doing so reduces financial strain on these impoverished patients and improves their sense of well-being, according to the first randomized study to compare the uninsured with the insured in the U.S.
In a novel program in Oregon, previously uninsured individuals chosen by lottery to be eligible for Medicaid experienced a 35% increase in their likelihood of having outpatient care, according to Amy Finkelstein, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and colleagues.
Enrollees also had a 15% increase in prescription drug use and a 30% increase in hospital admissions, the researchers reported in a working paper published on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Being insured also was beneficial in alleviating financial strains.
For instance, participants were 25% less likely to have an outstanding medical bill sent to a collection agency — a finding that also benefits healthcare providers, according to the researchers — because most medical debts remain unpaid over the long term.
Other financial effects were a 35% decrease in the likelihood of patients’ incurring out-of-pocket expenses and a 40% decrease in the need to borrow money or avoid paying other bills for medical fees.
One more reason we need single payer, at the least as an alternative to private insurance and as a last resort for people who can’t get insurance. And one more reason to re-tax the wealthiest: surely improving the lives of the poor is at least as important as letting multi-millionaires on up have one more dollar. The difference between earning one dollar a year and earning a million a year is vast but the difference between earning ten million and fifty million is marginal.