Oregon Health Study: A Statewide Study of People's Health and Access to Care

    • August 11, 2010

The Oregon Health Study (OHS) examines the effects of health insurance on individuals’ access to and utilization of health care, its effect on family finances, and ultimately its role in improving the health of individuals.

In April 2008, Oregon’s Medicaid agency determined that it had enough funds to provide health insurance to an additional 10,000 uninsured low-income adults through the Oregon Health Plan Standard (OHPS) program. To be as fair as possible, the state decided to open a reservation list for a set period of time and then draw names to determine who would receive an OHP application and who would not. This lottery system acted as a randomized experiment, creating a unique opportunity to explore the impact of health insurance.

The Oregon Health Study is the first randomized controlled experiment to examine the causal effects of having some type of insurance coverage versus having no insurance at all. This study will be conducted for at least three years in order to determine the effects of health insurance on health, health care utilization and other outcomes. OHS will provide policy-makers with timely information on the effects of expanding access to health insurance, both on the individual and system levels.

A series of papers based on the Oregon Health Study and its outcomes will appear in peer-reviewed journals over time.