Paper Talk: Enter the Health Lottery

Today I’m going to talk about the Oregon Health Lottery, basically a gift sent from above to economists who wanted to study healthcare!

The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: Evidence From the First Year

There’s really nothing going against the experimental design here – Oregon used a lottery, which is the definition of random, to select people to receive healthcare. Those with and without healthcare are thus effectively identical. The researchers were able to thus isolate the effects of healthcare itself, without any of the usual confounders.

The authors found that healthcare was associated with a 30% increase in hospital admissions, a significant increase in healthcare consumption for heart problems, and almost $800 more in annual spending on healthcare.

Short, sweet, and to the point – the gold-standard of a lottery makes this analysis an easy one to accept!


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