Can lack of health insurance increase risk of depression?

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A recent study showing that people covered by Medicaid may be less depressed than those who aren’t has prompted new debate about the value of such insurance, according to an article in the June 23 “Ideas” section of the Boston Globe. The article detailed the results of a May 2013 New England Journal of Medicine study co-authored by Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and MIT economist Amy Finkelstein, that found that people in Oregon with access to Medicaid were 30 percent less likely than their counterparts to screen positive for depression

Since the study did not find any significant health improvements among those on Medicaid, some have reacted by criticizing Medicaid expansion and “Obamacare.” Others think it’s important to consider health insurance’s association with lowered depression — likely the result of less worry about finances — because depression has been linked with increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.