Unbelievable: Medicaid Patients Don’t Understand How Medicaid Insurance Works

New Medicaid patients in Oregon failed to use their benefits effectively because they did not understand how to use insurance or health care, according to a study released Monday in the journal Health Affairs. As a result, researchers told USA Today, patients did not receive preventive health screenings, schedule appointments to manage chronic illnesses or use their new insurance coverage for anything beyond medical emergencies.

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  1. Lock says:

    This is obviously a major weakness that the plan is too complicated to understand.

  2. Greg Scandlen says:

    This is something I have been preaching for years now. There is a significant portion of the population who can’t cope with health insurance of any kind. They may be barely literate, drug addicted, mentally ill, outlaws, or just have poor impulse control. These people need the direct provision of services, not health insurance. The article recommends trying to “socialize” the people to get them to understand health insurance. Good luck with that. We will spend yet many more billions hiring middle class case workers to educate folks on how to be more functional, and nothing will change.

    • Perry says:

      You have a very good point Greg, another waste of valuable resources. The govenment either does not or chooses not to understand health insurance does not equal health care.

    • Ian Random says:

      Doesn’t Obama address that with the concept of adult children? :-)

  3. Linda Gorman says:

    Gosh, the paper abstract reads a little differently than the emphasis given in USA Today.

    Wonder what the paper actually says…

    And Greg is, as usual, correct. Heck, as a wonk who studies Medicaid from time to time, I can confidently state that I don’t really know how it works, either.

  4. John Fembup says:

    C’mon. It’s not unbelievable.

  5. Dupree says:

    At least here in NY, all they seem to care to know about their Medicaid, is that if they merely say they cant pay the copay, they don’t have to. Beyond that which directly affects them, good luck…

  6. Mary says:

    “Instead, Allen found in her review of in-person surveys of 120 new enrollees that…People knew they were using taxpayers’ money and didn’t want to waste it.”

    Clearly no one in Congress was a respondent in this survey.

  7. Bob Hertz says:

    Greg is right. We need to define what is “public health” and then fund it like grown ups.

    Some will say that public health is limited to contagious diseases and emergency care for accidents and injuries.

    If that is our consensus, then we need to devote federal funds to sustain emergency rooms, just as we pay taxes for police and fire stations.

    If public health is to include self-contained diseases and just ‘risk factors’ like high blood pressure, that makes the package more expensive. But someone has to lay down a proposal and then debate it.

    If we do include self-contained illnesses in the definition of public health, that does raise a practical question of how to fund it in a nation as dispersed as the USA.

    By that i mean that it is not difficult to set up a public health clinic in New York City. But what do you do in rural Wyoming? There is no point (I think) in opening a public clinic in such a place. Instead a way must be found to pay the good doctors who already practice in rural areas. This would kind of perpetuate Medicaid, but again we should debate the options.

    • Greg Scandlen says:

      Thanks, Bob. I agree completely that we need to be working on this. One of the things I like best about Goodman’s approach of universal vouchers is that when people don’t use their voucher for HI, the voucher will go to pay for safety net providers. But as far as I know this has not been worked through very well yet — how will the money be allocated and for what purposes?

      Regardless of that, we really need public funding of emergency departments. It makes no sense to me to overcharge maternity and cardiac patients to pay for the gunshot wounds of gangbangers. All taxpayers should be equally on the hook for these expense, imo.

  8. Buddy says:

    “Forty percent of new Medicaid enrollees didn’t seek care very often because they didn’t understand how the program worked”

    Clearly a little information would go a long way. I would assume that informing Medicaid patients how to use their benefits would have been the first priority.

  9. Matthew says:

    “Nearly a third of these less-frequent users avoided care because they didn’t know how much they would have to pay.”

    Well the tax payers are paying, so not using it is making that just go to waste. Or keeping someone else from receiving that benefit.

  10. James M. says:

    “He said much of the weight loss came after he was able to get a job where he walked a lot.”

    Contrary to what the government is saying, getting into the workforce can help you “achieve your dreams” as well.

  11. Floccina says:

    What? That is very believable.