Research Catches Up to Common Sense: Health Insurance

With the backdrop of frustrating federal budget negotiations as well as the cuts to Medi-Cal enacted in the past year, consider some scientific evidence of the broad benefits of providing health coverage to the poor.

Health economist and physician Dr. Alan M. Garber siezed upon an opportunity to study the impact that Medicaid has on the lives of low-income individuals in Oregon, when that state expanded coverage to 10,000 people by lottery.

The resulting study compared those who were chosen to enroll in Medicaid, and those who were not selected. The results provide compelling evidence that providing health insurance to people improves health behavior, including making it more likely that they get preventive services such as mammograms and cholesterol screenings; but those covered were also significantly less likely to need to borrow money to pay bills or to have bills sent to collections. The study is now moving into a second phase that will look at actual health outcomes.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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