A study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers that used for the first time a randomized, controlled study design to answer questions about how access to public insurance affects health, health care use, and other outcomes, has received a Health Services Research (HSR) Impact Award from Academy Health. The award recognizes outstanding research that has been successfully translated into health policy, management, or clinical practice.

Researchers including Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at HSPH and co-principal investigator of the study, looked at a 2008 plan by the state of Oregon to expand its Medicaid coverage by choosing recipients through a lottery.

They mailed questionnaires to more than 70,000 applicants to the Oregon program, targeting 35,000 who were selected in the lottery for access to Medicaid and 35,000 who were not. Using these surveys, along with hospital admissions data and credit reports, they were able to demonstrate that those who gained access to Medicaid utilized more health care, reported better physical and mental well-being, and were in better financial circumstances than those who didn’t—with fewer bills sent to collection, and a decline in the average amount of medical collections of about $400.

“This was an unprecedented opportunity to provide the policy community with vital information about Medicaid’s effects at a time of major program changes,” Baicker said in a February 4, 2013 statement.

Read Academy Health press release

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