Medicaid is Worse than Being Uninsured

This is Scott Gottlieb, writing in The Wall Street Journal:

  • A 2010 study…published in the medical journal Cancer, found that Medicaid patients and people lacking any health insurance were both 50% more likely to die when compared with privately insured patients.
  • A 2010 study…published in the Annals of Surgery, found that being on Medicaid was associated with the longest length of stay, the most total hospital costs, and the highest risk of death.


  • A 2011 study…published in the American Journal of Cardiology, found that…Medicaid patients were…more than twice as likely to have a major, subsequent heart attack after angioplasty as were patients who didn’t have any health insurance at all…
  • A 2011 study of…patients undergoing lung transplants for pulmonary diseases, published in the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, found that Medicaid patients were 8.1% less likely to survive 10 years after the surgery than their privately insured and uninsured counterparts.

In all of these studies, the researchers controlled for the socioeconomic and cultural factors that can negatively influence the health of poorer patients on Medicaid.

Here are critical reactions from Jonathan Cohn and Austin Frakt.


Comments (8)

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  1. Bruce says:

    Didn’t we already know this?

  2. Larry C. says:

    If not worse, it’s at least just as bad.

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    Some policy wonks assert that the poor Medicaid outcomes are due to the nature of Medicaid enrollees. But I wonder how much of the differences are related to provider reluctance to treat Medicaid patients. Depending on which state you reside, Medicaid reimbursements can be as little as 29 cents on the dollar compared to what private insurers would pay. I wonder if Medicaid enrollees fare worse because they have lousy access to primary care doctors?

  4. Stephen C. says:

    At the margin there can’t be that much difference between Medicaid and non-Medicaid enrollees, all other things being equal. The reason: there is so much movement back and forth between the two populations.

  5. Virginia says:

    I can see how this would be true. Too bad we don’t make Congress use Medicaid.

  6. Greg says:

    I like Virginia’s idea.

  7. Madeline says:

    I don’t know if Medicaid is worse than being uninsured, but I’m sure it’s very bad. Hard to believe that so many people are so supportive of enrolling 16 million more people in Medicaid.

    That’s universal coverage?

  8. Sue says:

    Some states offer other options for low-income individuals and families. For example, Medi-Cal is available for those living in California. Here’s an article explaining the basics…