Joseph P. Newhouse
John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management, HKS and HSPH; Professor of Health Care Policy, HMS
The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: Evidence from the First Year
Finkelstein, Amy, Sarah Taubman, Bill Wright, Mira Bernstein, Jonathan Gruber, Joseph P. Newhouse, Heidi Allen, Katherine Baicker, and the Oregon Health Study Group. "The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: Evidence from the First Year." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series and NBER Working Papers (RWP11-040 and 17190), October 2011.
In 2008, a group of uninsured low-income adults in Oregon was selected by lottery to be given
the chance to apply for Medicaid. This lottery provides a unique opportunity to gauge the effects of
expanding access to public health insurance on the health care use, financial strain, and health of lowincome
adults using a randomized controlled design. In the year after random assignment, the treatment
group selected by the lottery was about 25 percentage points more likely to have insurance than the
control group that was not selected. We find that in this first year, the treatment group had substantively
and statistically significantly higher health care utilization (including primary and preventive care as well
as hospitalizations), lower out-of-pocket medical expenditures and medical debt (including fewer bills
sent to collection), and better self-reported physical and mental health than the control group.