The Health Insurance Experiment: A Classic RAND Study Speaks to the Current Health Care Reform Debate
Dec 6, 2006
Results from the RAND Health Insurance Experiment
|PDF file||4.2 MB||
Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.
Does free medical care lead to better health than insurance plans that require the patient to shoulder part of the cost? In an effort to answer this question, the authors studied 3,958 people between the ages of 14 and 61 who were free of disability that precluded work and had been randomly assigned to a set of insurance plans for three or five years. One plan provided free care; the others required enrollees to pay a share of their medical bills. As reported in R-2847-HHS, patients in the latter group made approximately one-third fewer visits to a physician and were hospitalized about one-third less often. For persons with poor vision and for low-income persons with high blood pressure, free care brought an improvement (vision better by 0.2 Snellen lines, diastolic blood pressure lower by 3 mm Hg); better control of blood pressure reduced the calculated risk of early death among those at high risk. For the average participant, as well as for subgroups differing in income and initial health status, no significant effects were detected on eight other measures of health status and health habits. Confidence intervals for these eight measures were sufficiently narrow to rule out all but a minimal influence, favorable or adverse, of free care for the average participant. For some measures of health in subgroups of the population, however, the broader confidence intervals make this conclusion less certain.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.