The RAND Health Insurance Experiment

Introduction

Healthcare is one of the biggest concerns that affect the general population. According to researchers, the most common type of health insurance is the employer-based one (Berchick et al., 2019). The issue has become even more prominent due to COVID-19. It has been reported that around 30 million employees filed for unemployment in March and April 2020 (Garrett & Gangopadhyaya, 2020). This has been an even bigger issue since most populations’ healthcare is correlated with their employment status. The Rand study looked at healthcare from a financing point of view. The experiment showed that the cost of medical care highly influences the desire of people to use health-related services. Coinsurance is also a factor that makes individuals hesitant to get the necessary help, and coinsurance does not correlate with adverse health effects in patients.

Health Policy Research

Health policy research is a tool that is helpful when it comes to evaluating, studying, examining, and improving health policies. Its goal is to assess the current problems and solve them by providing the population with better healthcare. The Rand study’s objectives include illustrating the characteristics of health policy research since this knowledge will help implement future strategies and goals. RAND analyzed the current state of healthcare by looking at the present situation of HIT (Health Information Technology), predicting its implementation by the current US healthcare system, and making recommendations regarding the improvement of these policies.

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HPR’s policies can be categorized by several main points. These include its nature, ethics, input, basis, and target population (Shi, 2019). Its essence in regards to the applied field examines specific populations and groups. Looking at a particular group of people helps when it comes to providing targeted help rather than generalized. On the other hand, ethics is related to following ethical guidelines when implementing new strategies and plans. Following ethical rules helps minimize the possible adverse effects on vulnerable populations. Another aspect, multidisciplinary input, refers to considering different disciplines while solving health-related problems. Researchers who specialize in healthcare are trained in law, politics, sociology, and other fields that can help understand and come to a conclusion regarding new health implementations.

The scientific basis is another factor that contributes to the objectivity and impartiality of health policy researchers. Specific data, scientific information, and surveys are great tools that lead to a more research-based policy. Last but not least, focus on population examines the importance of looking at the entire group of people rather than specific individuals. This means exploring the most common health concerns, studying a wide array of people, and basing policies and strategies on the most critical aspects that affect most of the population.

Contribution

The RAND research examined a couple of key points related to the current state of healthcare and health-related problems. According to researchers, having insurance correlates with vital health concerns such as managing blood pressure issues and dealing with depression (Sommers et al., 2017). Moreover, lack of insurance is connected to a higher mortality rate (Woolhandler & Himmelstein, 2018). Since having insurance is an important topic that affects the physical and mental well-being of the entire population, researching this topic is detrimental.

While the RAND research’s objective was to examine health policies in the US, the findings helped build and implement policies that would minimize the risks and maximize the beneficial factors in the health domain. It has been noted that demand for healthcare is determined by needs rather than economic factors (Einav & Finkelstein, 2018). This is why the contribution of RAND has been valuable. It is connected to the implementation of research to have a more efficient health program. An example of contribution would be Idaho’s Preventive Health Assistance Program which focuses on preventative health policies for children. RAND’s research contributed to this program’s policies. Another example is The Michigan Maternal Infant Health Program, which had been evaluated and researched with similar strategies as the RAND study. The analysis shows a reduced risk of complications at birth in Medicaid-insured females. This directly correlates with RAND’s contribution to implementing new strategies in the health insurance system.

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Summary of the RAND Health Insurance Study

The RAND Health Insurance Experiment is considered one of the most extensive and evidence-based studies that examined health policy in the US. The 15-year period of researching and reviewing around 2,700 families in the US allowed the experiment to have enough data, research material, and information to come to a comprehensive conclusion. The participants were assigned specific health insurance. Three types of health insurance were implemented. Those were free healthcare, 25% coinsurance, 50% coinsurance, 95% coinsurance, and free care provided by a health maintenance organization. The main objective was to learn about the financing of healthcare, how it affects people, and how it influences the choices that individuals make regarding their health. The study successfully fulfilled the primary premise.

The researchers could answer two of the main issues related to the healthcare topic and its implications. They were able to answer the following questions: does free medical care lead to more frequent use by patients, and is the cost of medical care related to health outcomes for the patients? The study concluded that patients who had to pay for medical care used fewer services, coinsurance leads to reduced use of medical care, the quality of it was not influenced by coinsurance, and coinsurance did not negatively affect the patient’s health (Shi, 2019). The conclusions that were found due to the study were beneficial for policymaking in the field of healthcare. The providers were able to assess the general population’s needs and concerns and make specific changes that would benefit them, as well as the people who were using their medical services.

References

Berchick, E. R., Barnett, J. C., & Upton, R. D. (2019). Health insurance coverage in the United States: 2018. The United States Census Bureau. Web.

Einav, L., & Finkelstein, A. (2018). Moral hazard in health insurance: What we know and how we know it. Journal of the European Economic Association, 6(4), 957–982. Web.

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Garrett, B. G. A., & Gangopadhyaya, A. (2020). How the COVID-19 recession could affect health insurance. Urban Institute. Web.

Shi, L. (2019). Introduction to health policy. Health Administration Press, HAP.

Sommers, B. D., Gawande, A. A., & Baicker, K. (2017). Health insurance coverage and health—What the recent evidence tells us. The New England Journal of Medicine, 377(6), 586-593. Web.

Woolhandler, S., & Himmelstein, D. U. (2017). The relationship of health insurance and mortality: Is lack of insurance deadly? Annals of Internal Medicine, 167(6), 424. Web.

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