Is Medicaid Worthless?

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Over at The Corner, Robert VerBruggen highlights the results of a new study that looks at the result of Medicaid expansion in California:

On the benefits side, we do not detect significant improvements in patient health, although the expansion led to substantially greater hospital and emergency room use, and a reallocation of care from public to private and better-quality hospitals.

(Emphasis mine.) This paper joins an illustrious list of studies that find no benefit to Medicaid because they define “health” as “not dying.” That’s it. You feel better? You got a cavity filled? You got a prescription for an antidepressant? A new hip? Sorry, that doesn’t count. The only thing that counts is mortality. If that cavity wasn’t going to kill you, then this study doesn’t care about it.

And while we’re on the subject, why California? This has got to be one of the worst possible states to study since we already have relatively good indigent health care. Switching to Medicaid may have some advantages, but in California it probably has only a modest effect on health.

Anyway, I’ll make my usual offer to the folks who enjoy highlighting studies like this: If you’re really convinced that insurance has no particular effect on health, then put your money where your mouth is and ditch your own coverage. Any takers?

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