This is how the New York Times teased Annie Lowrey's story about the new Oregon Medicaid study on its home page last night: 
The subhed is, at the least, a poor summary of both the study and the article. 

Note too that the story doesn't back up Lowrey's claim that Medicaid coverage made recipients "vastly more financially secure", although if you read the study you can figure out why she said that; although recipients spent more on health care once they had Medicaid, their risk of catastrophic financial loss was well mitigated. Jonathan Cohn, at The New Republic, has a good explanation.

The study's results are not surprising for a reader from Texas, a state that has been running what you might call a long-term unofficial experiment in not extending insurance coverage to people. We're notorious for that--Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents of any state. 

On the other hand, as I've been saying on Twitter and on this week's mini book tour, Texas is not worst for actual health. If you look at the annual rankings from the United Health Foundation--not an organization that can be said to be biased in the state's favor--Texas ranks 40th overall, in part because of the low insurance rate, but 25th for health outcomes. The Commonwealth Fund, similarly, ranks Texas 46th overall, but 21st for "healthy lives" (although their most recent ranking comes from 2009, so I've been citing the United Health Foundation more often). 

What all of this suggests to me is not that Texas shouldn't worry about health insurance, or that Texas should totally reject the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, as state leaders are threatening; we probably should take the Medicaid expansion, if only because the state and local government currently spends a lot of money on care for uninsured people, as Billy Hamilton (the state's former deputy comptroller) explained in a report earlier this year

Rather, the point here is that while health insurance and health are theoretically related, they're not the same thing, and the way people (Democrats) keep conflating the two is arguably counterproductive. I'll have more on this later today or tomorrow at Texas Monthly. 
 



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