Oregon provides fodder for health care debate

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Thursday, May 02, 2013
BY BRANDON SAWYER | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Second-year results of the ongoing "Oregon Health Insurance Experiment" were just published in The New England Journal of Medicine. This unique study was borne out of Oregon's decision to expand Medicaid to thousands of low-income adults selected by lottery in 2008. A team of researchers, led by MIT economist Amy Finkelstein, has tracked d this group and a control group who did not receive Medicaid and remained uninsured, observing the measurable health, financial and other effects of health insurance coverage.

So far the study – of 6,387  randomly selected adults with Medicaid and 5,842 randomly selected witout coverage – found "no significant effect of Medicaid coverage on the prevalence or diagnosis of hypertension or high cholesterol levels or on the use of medication for these conditions," nor difference in "average glycated hemoglobin levels or on the percentage of participants with levels of 6.5% or higher."

It did find among those with coverage a higher diagnosis of diabetes and use of diabetes medication,less incidence ofr depression, increased  use of preventive care, and near elimination of "catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures."

Given the political debate raging before a host of "Obamacare" reforms take effect next year, the study has gained a lot of attention. Forbes contributor David Whelan thinks the findings prove once again that having health insurance and being healthy are two different things.

Is having health insurance the same as having good health? The answer is no. People die every day despite great insurance. Others live long healthy lives without any coverage at all. The Amish community located 20 miles south of where I’m sitting includes many members of the second group. Yet the important distinction is usually lost by the time you travel 1,000 miles to Washington.

The Washington Post's WonkBlog calls the Oregon experiment a "beautiful, rare unicorn," due to therandomized clinical-trial data it provides, but the blog, written by Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas, concludes:

The problem with the Oregon study... is we don’t really know what we’re learning. It’s not clear, for instance, if the results are applicable to all health insurance, to all Medicaid insurance, or just to Oregon’s Medicaid program. It also only has two years worth of data, so we can’t know whether the sharp uptick in preventive medicine and diabetes diagnoses will pay off down the road.

Oregon is likely to remain in the health care glare as it moves ahead with CoverOregon, one of the first state health insurance exchanges to flesh out, initially limited to small businesses and individuals. Insurers are currently submitting their rate requests for next year, and individual rates could rise significantly as new mandates from the Affordable Care Act kick in.

For more on health care costs and reforms in Oregon, check out this month's Data Dig: What's driving the cost of health care?

Research editor This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it digs heaps of data about privately-held and public companies, economics and industries.

 

More Articles

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


Read more...

Tackling the CEO-worker pay gap

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF

An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.


Read more...

The short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121214-xmaslist1BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.


Read more...

Behind the curtain: What students should know about accreditation and rankings

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 04, 2014
120414-edurating-thumbBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How important are institutional and/or program evaluations provided by third parties in selecting a college or university program?


Read more...

Justice for All

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Lawger upends the typical hourly based fee model by letting clients determine the cost.


Read more...

Tweeting Portland's State of the City address

News
Friday, January 30, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.08.19 PMBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

For those who were working, here are a few highlights of Charlie Hales' State of the City address.


Read more...

That's Not a Watch (This Is a Watch)

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smartwatches are all the rage. But old-fashioned timepieces keep on ticking.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS