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Health Insurance: How Much Does It Matter?

Armen Hareyan's picture

Two recent reports associate lack of health insurance coverage with less access to health care services and worse health outcomes.

One study is written by Jack Hadley of the Urban Institute and published by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, the other by an Institute of Medicine (IOM)committee, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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The two have much in common. Neither adds original research, instead compiling the results of previous studies. Both acknowledge the limitations of this approach.

Also, both identify a correlation between lack of insurance and poor health. But neither is able to determine whether one causes the other or each is caused by something else entirely. In particular, the studies fail to consider the degree to which poverty and lack of education may cause both poor health and non-insurance.

Yet there is evidence that income and education are more important determinants of health than insurance.