The Corner

New Health Care Study, Liberal Wonks Hardest Hit

A new study of Medicaid recipients in Oregon suggests that giving people Medicaid coverage increases their spending on health care but has no statistically significant effects on their physical health. It does reduce depression (although the mechanism is not entirely clear, since it does not seem to increase the use of anti-depressants in any statistically significant way) and improve financial security, and the study found some medical benefits that did not reach statistical significance. Since a great deal of Obamacare’s coverage expansion comes from expanding Medicaid, the study undercuts the arguments Obamacare proponents have been making for the last five years. Remember when supporters claimed that opposition amounted to killing people? The evidence for that view was always thin, and now it’s thinner.

Avik Roy and Megan McArdle have nice write-ups of the study, with Roy also covering the defensive spin of liberals about it. Phil Klein has a shorter write-up. An earlier version of the study seemed to show more positive results; Peter Suderman contrasts how liberals covered it then (this is “the gold standard in research) and how the same people are covering it now (the study is limited).

This doesn’t mean that expanding insurance coverage is valueless. The main gain, though, appears to be financial: the reduced risk of not being able to pay medical bills or suffering huge losses from them. (That’s why I have health insurance, for example, not because I think it will improve my health.) But there are many cheaper ways of realizing this gain: for example, we could reduce the regulatory and tax-policy obstacles to the development of a robust market in catastrophic health coverage. It seems highly likely that there are less wasteful means of reducing depression as well.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More