For reasons somewhat too complicated to be explained here, the state of
Oregon several years allowed some low income
citizens not normally eligible to enroll in Medicaid to do so. The right
to enroll was determined by a lottery so some low income people got Medicaid, and some similar people did not. As a result the state provides
a substantial amount of reliable data on the impact of having health
insurance for a relatively homogenous population.
For those who cannot read the entire results of the study, here one startling conclusion.
In a continuing study, an all-star group of researchers following Ms. Parris and tens of thousands of other Oregonians has found that gaining insurance makes people healthier, happier and more financially stable.
Wow, is that amazing. People who have health insurance are healthier than the same type of people who don’t have health insurance. Someone alert the Nobel committee.
One bit of real news is that people that have insurance do tend to spend more of their own and the insurance money on health care.
“The study put to rest two incorrect arguments that persisted because of an absence of evidence,” said Katherine Baicker, a Harvard economist who worked on the study and served as an economic adviser to President George W. Bush.
“The first is that Medicaid doesn’t do anything for people, because it’s bad insurance or because the uninsured have other ways of getting care,” Ms. Baicker said. “The second is that Medicaid coverage saves money” by increasing preventive care, for instance.
“It’s up to society to determine whether it’s worth the cost,” she added.
But this should not have been unexpected. Once a person has access to health care they are going to upgrade the quality of their health, and that means spending more money, both of their own and of the insurance program.
As for the question of whether or not it is worth the cost, does a modern, advanced nation with the largest and most prosperous economy in the world really have to ask the question of whether or not it can afford health care for everyone? If there is any doubt, here is a story that might settle the issue.
Ms. Kious, 24, who also suffers from depression and Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition, makes only $1,000 to $1,200 a month and cannot afford insurance. The clinic performed some tests and prescribed Ms. Kious the pills. But they also told her that she had Stage 2 cervical cancer. As of now, the condition remains untreated. She and her boyfriend even considered getting pregnant so that she would automatically qualify for Medicaid.
“It’s scary for me, having cancer and knowing I can’t do anything about it,” said Ms. Kious, her hair in an elaborate plait. “It’s an I-don’t-know-when-my-next-meal-will-be sort of thing. It’s really difficult because health problems make you scared and emotional.”
Think about it, that in the United States of
America in 2012
there is a question as to whether or not a woman can get treatment for cervical
cancer, or be allowed to die.