Those with insurance more likely to use preventive services, also spend more on healthcare

The Oregon Health Study, the first randomized controlled experiment to examine the effects of having some type of insurance coverage versus having no insurance at all, has found that while those with insurance report feeling healthier, happier and more financially stable, they also spend 25% more on healthcare than those with no insurance, according to an article in the New York Times. 

The article examines the effects of the Oregon Health Study, where 10,000 uninsured low-income adults in the state were granted Medicaid coverage through a lottery. Key findings from the study, which is still ongoing include:

  • The newly insured spent an average of $778 a year, or 25 percent more on health care than those who did not get insurance.
  • Insurance increased the likelihood of seeking outpatient care by 35%, using prescription drugs by 15%, and being admitted to the hospital by 30%, but it did not have an effect on emergency room visits.
  • Those with insurance used preventive care services more frequently; 60% more of those insured had mammograms and 20% more had cholesterol screening.
  • The uninsured reported being in worse physical and mental shape and were less likely to describe themselves as happy.
  • The insured were 25 percent less likely to have an unpaid medical bill sent to a collection agency and 40 percent less likely to borrow money or skip paying other bills in order to cover their medical costs.


The study is ongoing for at least two more years.


(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, June 25, 2012; The New York Times,, June 22, 2012; Oregon Health Study,, accessed June 27, 2012)