With Medicaid budgets under close scrutiny in most states, including Maine, a New York Times editorial reflects on a recent randomized study in Oregon showing that people covered by the program not only have improved access to health care services compared to people without any health care coverage but also are actually healthier.

“Those people were also more likely to report being in better physical and mental health. And they were better off financially: less likely to pay out of pocket, have unpaid medical bills sent to collection agencies, or need to borrow money or ignore other bills to pay for medical care.

The critics rightly point out that just because the Medicaid enrollees reported that their health was better does not mean that it actually was better. In the second year, researchers are measuring actual blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and other physical data.

The study estimated that the additional care the new enrollees got drove up spending (from all sources) on the average individual by about $775, roughly 25 percent, above the $3,200 average for the uninsured control group.”

Those additional short-term costs, the Times argues, will be more than offset by the improved health and productivity of Americans enrolled in Medicaid.

Read the editorial here.