Science

Diabetes, Hypertension And Depression Diagnosis: Does Medicaid Even Help?

By Douglas K. Barclay , May 03, 2013 01:00 PM EDT

According to a recent study, those who benefit from Medicaid insurance are seeing their health greatly improve since enrollment.

"The Oregon Experiment-Medicaid's Effects on Clinical Outcomes," published Friday in the New England Journal Of Medicine, concludes that Medicaid coverage is not perfect. The study examined over 6,000 adults with Medicaid coverage and close to 6,000 without Medicaid. The study provides a thorough look at the success of the oft-debated health insurance program.

The Medicaid study uses statistics gathered from the Oregon "lottery" patients. In 2008, the state of Oregon gave out Medicaid plans to otherwise ineligible people in a lottery system. Of the 90,000 that applied, close to 10,000 were granted insurance plans.

The study found that those with Medicaid saw a rapid increase in treatment for diagnoses such as diabetes and depression. Results indicate a higher diagnosis rate of diabetes in Medicaid users, but not an improved quality of health. The study also found that there was no prevalent difference in the levels of hypertension management among Medicaid patients.

Those with Medicaid were 10 percent less likely to be at further risk of depression and related illness. The study, conducted over a two-year period, also found that those who had Medicaid were now 80 percent less likely to have a serious medical incident that would otherwise require high out-of-pocket costs. This would seemingly dispel the myth that only those who are in dire need of health insurance to cover serious incidents seek out the federally funded program. An increase in doctors' visits, prescription drug management and simple tests like mammograms was seen throughout the study.

Though the risk of depression and diabetes diagnoses did decrease, the lack of change in hypertension diabetes and cholesterol levels indicate that Medicaid patients are not guaranteed to come out of the program healthier people. 

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