With financial barriers removed, Medicaid patients go to the emergency room much more frequently, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
A study conducted by Harvard University showed a 40 percent hike in emergency room visits among low-income adults in Oregon who gained Medicaid coverage in 2008 through a state lottery.
Medicaid is a federal-state health insurance program for the needy, aged, blind and disabled and for low-income families with children.
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Under the health overhaul that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, states have the option to extend Medicaid to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That's about $26,950 for a family of three.
"I would view it as part of a broader set of evidence that covering people with health insurance doesn't save money," says Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The law [Affordable Care Act] isn't designed to save money. It's designed to improve health, and that's going to cost money."
The study is part of a broader project that looks at Oregon's 2008 Medicaid expansion.