Reaction to the Oregon Medicaid Study

The latest results, showing that Medicaid makes you happier, but not healthier, provoked this:

Ray Fisman in Slate:

It’s time for liberal media types like myself to eat some humble pie.

Avik Roy:

The result calls into question the $450 billion a year we spend on Medicaid, and the fact that ObamaCare throws 11 million more Americans into this broken program.

James Pethokoukis (AEI):

The researchers running the study are talking up those positive results, but that is just a lame effort to turn lemons into lemonade

Michael Cannon (Cato):

There is no way to spin these results as anything but a rebuke to those who are pushing states to expand Medicaid.

Zeke Emanuel: “It’s disappointing.”

Megan McArdle: “Shocker.”

When Katherine Baicker described the preliminary finding that Medicaid enrollees “felt healthier” two years ago at a Cato forum, she was almost giddy. There was no giddiness this week. The researchers appeared almost desperate to find something good to say. Tyler Cowen writes:

Reading more carefully through the quotations from [Amy] Finkelstein and [John] Holahan in the [New York Times], I find it amazing, and I suppose even embarrassing, what those commentators are claiming as a positive result.

Comments (17)

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  1. Ken says:


  2. Tara Smith says:

    Ok, so based on one resent study, all of these incredible hype is garnered? Makes you wonder how much political influence and ideology matter here.

  3. Sam says:

    The making you happier part makes sense and the making you less healthy I suppose in general is shown to be the trend but there are caveats here on making overall assumptions based on numbers.

  4. Ronald says:

    Glad this study is making headlines. Hopefully more studies will ensue and keep pressuring the system to change.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    I had the same reaction as Tyler Cowen when I initially read the The New York Times article haven already seen the original New England Journal of Medicine article. The Times was really reaching to find something positive to say about the results, all the while ignoring the glaring negative findings.

  6. Patel says:

    The lastest research shows that medicare makes you happier, not healthier…funny story, I was about to say the same thing about cocaine.

  7. Desai says:

    @ Patel

    That’s funny, but lets not forget that being happy has numerous health benefits.

  8. Desai says:

    @ Patel

    That’s funny, but lets not forget that being happy has numerous health benefits. Being happy has health benefits!

  9. Hassan says:

    Although we all tend to bash on medicare being a broken system, all the pundits like Avid Roy seem to propose very little solutions. It is because we haven’t found better alternatives that has lead to passage of Obamacare.

  10. Huda says:

    I agree with what Hassan states, I do think the passage of Obama Care was an act of desperation to nothing bold being done to solve the health care crisis.

  11. Sadat says:

    We need to import more market forces into health care, however, it seems the big hospital lobbying groups are stalling any kind of progress.

  12. MarkH says:

    Wait what? Who said health insurance was supposed to make us healthier? Is homeowners insurance supposed to prevent fire? Or car insurance for preventing auto accidents?

    Health insurance exists to keep us from going bankrupt when we get sick. It’s to keep us from choosing between medication, or an ER visit, and our rent or mortgage. When has insurance been expected to prevent something?

    Did medicaid keep people from going bankrupt from medical bills? If so, it worked. If not, it didn’t.

  13. Erik says:

    After the debacle with the austerity study it is important to realize that this Medicaid study was conducted by Katherine Baiker who was on GW Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, so there is a vested ideology here. As we now know, ideology sometimes gets in the way of good reporting…

  14. Gabriel Odom says:

    I will quote my previous comment:

    “Mark, you’re wrong. Medicaid’s “purpose is to improve the health of people who might otherwise go without medical care for themselves”. That’s straight from the Medicaid website. Therefore, this study shows – without case for argument – that Medicaid has failed in Oregon.”

  15. H. James Prince says:

    Erik, are you under the persuasion that an Obama-loyal doctor would have found a different result? This is an ad hominem argument, and I would prefer if you keep your freshman-level logical fallacies in English Composition II where they belong.

  16. Patel says:

    I think Mark brings up some very valid points. Additionally, before we go on bashing on Medicaid more, look to the following source:

  17. MarkH says:

    Gabriel, I don’t care what the stupid propaganda on their website says. The damn fools at any health insurance company will sell you similar garbage, it’s total nonsense. Do you believe the Geico gecko is real too?

    No, insurance companies talk a big game about what they do for your health, but it’s all nonsense. None of them exist to make you healthier. They exist for economic protection from health-care related catastrophe. Medicaid appears to be no different but you’d have to be brain dead to believe that “making us healthier” is the goal. It’s health insurance, not a fitness program, not a weight-loss regiment, not a health spa. It’s a for financial health, not physical health.