2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

And now for some GOOD news: Obamacare is making people, you know, healthier.

Last week, in an entry about the Dueling Banjo debate over whether ACA premiums are "higher" or "lower" than they *should* be at this point, I noted that...

From a pure, cold economic perspective, the debate going on between the dueling studies above is about how much the first is being cancelled out by the second.

The debate which should be going on from a human perspective is about whether more or fewer people are better or worse off health-wise and economically thanks to/due to the ACA than they would otherwise be without it.

Unfortunately, when it comes to healthcare, this is a nearly impossible task to measure properly.

For instance, let's take someone with cancer. Under the ACA, they're allowed to enroll in a policy which will cover their treatments. If they have a low income, they'll receive heavy APTC assistance and possibly CSR assistance.

Without the ACA, they'd be utterly screwed and would very likely go bankrupt trying to pay the full price for treatment, or die without it, or the first followed by the second.

To them, it isn't a question of "I was paying $X, now I'm paying 25% more than $X"; it's a question of "before, I would've died; now I hopefully won't."

Now multiply that person by several million others with similar horrible ailments, and the question is no longer purely about "how much will it cost" but also "how many lives can we save" and "how much pain/agony can we relieve"?

Well, apparently the Journal of the American Medical Association took issue with my "impossible task to measure properly" claim. As NY Times reporter Margot Sanger-Katz explains...

Obamacare Appears to Be Making People Healthier

Obamacare has provided health insurance to some 20 million people. But are they any better off?

...A few recent studies suggest that people have become less likely to have medical debt or to postpone care because of cost. They are also more likely to have a regular doctor and to be getting preventive health services like vaccines and cancer screenings. A new study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, offers another way of looking at the issue. Low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid insurance to everyone below a certain income threshold, appear to be healthier than their peers in Texas, which did not expand.

...Their survey found people in Arkansas and Kentucky were nearly 5 percent more likely than their peers in Texas to say they were in excellent health in 2015. And that difference was bigger than it had been the year before.

...Extensive research shows that people who say they are in poor health really are much more likely to die than those who describe their health as good.

The survey also asked about other subjects. It found that people in the expansion states were more likely to have a doctor and to have a place to go for care. They said they were more likely to have their chronic disease treated, and that they were more likely to have received screening for high cholesterol or high blood sugar, markers for heart disease and diabetes.

Read the whole piece for crucial caveats and insight. 5% may not sound like much, but it's not nothing either.