July 19, 2011 12:11PM

Giving Medicaid to Very Poor & Sick Folks, Who Go out of Their Way to Request It, Makes Them Report Feeling Healthier

Robin Hanson has a post on the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment over at Overcoming Bias.  He concludes:

So far, the new Oregon Health Insurance Experiment shows that for very poor and sick folks who go out of their way to request medical insurance, giving them such insurance makes them report feeling healthier. Two-thirds of this effect appears immediately on granting their request, and before they actually got more medical treatment. It remains to be seen if these healthy feelings will be reflected in more direct health measures, though that seems plausible, and we’ll probably never see mortality effects. The main results of the RAND [health insurance] experiment, which looked at all sorts of people, suggests doubts about presuming that if medicine helps the very poor and sick, it on average helps everyone.

Here's my take, and some follow-up here and here.