What Is the Link Between Having Health Insurance and Enjoying Better Health and Finances?

Early Results of the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment

People with health insurance are much more likely than the uninsured to utilize preventive services and prescription drugs, and they are less likely to incur medical debts.

These are the key takeaways from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment—an unprecedented approach to understanding the connections between health insurance and improved health and finances.

In 2008, Oregon created a lottery system giving some uninsured, low-income adults on a waiting list the chance to apply for Medicaid. By randomly assigning health insurance to some but not others—something that has never been done in the United States—the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment established true treatment and control groups and a unique opportunity to determine the effects of expanding access to public health care insurance.

The results: people with health insurance reported better health, both mental and physical, and better access to care than those without insurance.

This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in January 2012, examines the results of the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment and its implications in the U.S. health care system.

Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.


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