What the Oregon Health Study Can Tell Us about Expanding Medicaid

The recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes a major expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults in 2014.

This paper describes the Oregon Health Study, a randomized controlled trial that will be able to shed some light on the likely effects of such expansions. In 2008, Oregon randomly drew names from a waiting list for its previously closed public insurance program. This study analyzed enrollment into this program and found that people who signed up for the waiting list and enrolled in the Oregon Medicaid program were likely to have worse health than those who did not. However, actual enrollment was fairly low, partly because many applicants did not meet eligibility standards.