Insurance isn’t health care

That’s what the ‘Oregon experiment’ really shows

The Register-Guard

Oregon’s experience with an expanded Medicaid program is being used as ammunition by all sides in the national debate over health care. Opponents of the Affordable Care Act claim it shows that providing health insurance to more people doesn’t make them healthier. Supporters cite the same data to support the opposite claim. The fog of war over Obamacare has obscured the real message from Oregon, which is that insurance and health care are not the same thing.

Oregon made itself the laboratory for Medicaid expansion in 2008. The state had funds to add 10,000 patients to the health care program for low-income people, but 90,000 met eligibility guidelines. Oregon conducted a lottery to determine who would enroll. The lottery created an unprecedented opportunity for a randomized controlled study — one that can yield statistically valid results.