Which Is Worse: Being Uninsured or Being Enrolled in Medicaid?

This is Greg Scandlen, writing at the State Policy Network blog site here:

MedicaidThis author reviewed all of the 139 studies that comprised [Institute of Medicine's] analysis and found that only seven of them adjusted for income, but 44 identified the results of Medicaid enrollees separately from the uninsured and 26 compared the uninsured only to people with private insurance, omitting the role of Medicaid and Medicare. In 31 of the 44 studies that separated out the Medicaid experience, people on Medicaid did worse than the uninsured on a range of health treatments and outcomes. In a few cases, the uninsured and Medicaid patients both did better than the privately insured, such as mortality in the hospital.

Comments (5)

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  1. Joe S. says:

    Terrific post. Remember, the most common liberal health reform is to expand enrollment in Medicaid.

  2. Larry C. says:

    Joe, it’s called killing with kindness.

  3. Vicki says:

    Apparently, the Democrat’s plan is to try to get a quick expansion of SCHIP, which is just as bad as Medicaid because in most places it pays Medicaid rates.

  4. Sam says:

    Thank you for your approach to this. I was on Medicaid for a short time and it was awful. First, spending down my money made no sense.

    I was also prevented from doing ANYTHING which would enable me to get out of that socio-economic status. I could not marry, could not make any substantial income, could not own any property, accept inheritance, or save money.

    It was also difficult to decide to try to go back to work because I was so afraid of losing the health care. It was shameful.

    Then, there were only a few Dr’s who took it, the care was shoddy, and the only place I could get real care was a teaching hospital 70 miles away. When they forced managed care, that was the end. There was no way even to get there.

    In the end, I decided to go without any health insurance and any health care.

    I have a severe chronic condition that I Live with and yes, it may reduce my life span, but I could not stand to have all my freedoms removed from me.

    I appreciate that you are standing up for people who are thought of as nothing because many of us can get off of Medicaid and would if we could. And many do not have long term illnesses, yet could end up with one if they are forced onto managed plans that essentially remove all access to acceptable health care.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    Medicaid reimbursements are so low that physicians often cannot afford to treat significant numbers of Medicaid patients. Studies have shown that uninsured patients willing to pay cash at the time of service have an easier time getting timely ambulatory appointments than someone who is on Medicaid. The physician practices that do see large numbers of Medicaid patients are often described as “Medicaid Mills” and run patients through like cattle through a corral. The most vulnerable Medicaid enrollees are often not sophisticated enough to understand how to navigate the system and seek out the care they need. As a result, many of them receive substandard care. Expanding the Medicaid rolls without substantially increasing the supply of physicians willing to see them will make the most vulnerable Medicaid enrollees worse off.