Monday, August 20, 2012
People with health care insurance have better health than people who do not, but questions persist whether the better health reflects access to coverage or other factors that correlate with insurance coverage. In a recent study comparing three states that substantially expanded adult Medicaid eligibility with neighboring states that did not implement expansions, researchers found that the Medicaid expansions were associated with a reduction in death rates (as previously discussed on this blog). However, other studies have not demonstrated much benefit from access to coverage. In a study reported in the current issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers did not find reductions in deaths from any cause or in hospitalizations for cardiovascular disease for persons who received financial assistance to cover the "doughnut" hole in Medicare's prescription drug program. As data come in from the Oregon lottery for access to Medicaid, we will be in a better position to assess the benefits for health from access to health care coverage.