Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: Evidence from the First Year

The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: Evidence from the First Year: "In 2008, a group of uninsured low-income adults in Oregon was selected by lottery to be given the chance to apply for Medicaid. This lottery provides a unique opportunity to gauge the effects of expanding access to public health insurance on the health care use, financial strain, and health of low-income adults using a randomized controlled design. In the year after random assignment, the treatment group selected by the lottery was about 25 percentage points more likely to have insurance than the control group that was not selected. We find that in this first year, the treatment group had substantively and statistically significantly higher health care utilization (including primary and preventive care as well as hospitalizations), lower out-of-pocket medical expenditures and medical debt (including fewer bills sent to collection), and better self-reported physical and mental health than the control group.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Taking a Side | Crooks and Liars

Taking a Side | Crooks and Liars:

Just a terrific paragraph:

To me, that question is the most critical one there is when it comes to government policy. I don’t believe that government is inherently good — having lived through Vietnam, Watergate, J. Edgar Hoover’s corruption at the FBI, the massive deficit producing tax-cuts-for-the-rich policies of Reagan and Bush, the S&L crisis, financial deregulation, media consolidation, the Iraq war, Katrina, and the utter economic incompetence of the President George W. Bush economic years. I have no illusions that government as a whole is always on the side of most people. But what I want and believe in is a government of, by, and for the people — most especially for the people. Given the size and power of the financial industry, and other huge multinational corporations, I want a government that is on our side in making sure these massive companies don’t destroy our economy (again), and then demand bailouts (again) because they are too big to fail. I want a government on our side so that big insurance companies don’t tell people they can’t have coverage anymore because they got sick. I want a government on the side of senior citizens who have worked hard their whole lives and now want to live with some modest measure of dignity and economic security through Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid coverage. I want a government on the side of working class families thrown out of their jobs and homes through no fault of their own. I want a government that is on the side of our kids and helps them get a good education. I want a government that is on the side of small business and start-up entrepreneurs as they work their butts off trying to compete with huge corporations.

This is the converse of the argument I often make about how wonderful people think private business is viz the government: Ever try switching cell phone carriers? Cable companies? Understand your credit card agreement?

To paraphrase Barney Frank. "If you think government is terrible, private businesses aren't so hot, either!"

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