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Rationing medical care: rhetoric and reality in the Oregon health plan

By Jonathan Oberlander, Theodore Marmor and Lawrence Jacobs


The Oregon Health Plan (OHP) has been widely heralded as an important innovation in medical care policy and rationing. Oregon's pioneering method of prioritizing funding for health care through systematic and public ranking of medical services has drawn substantial international interest. This paper reviews the experience of the Oregon plan since it began operation in 1994. We argue that widespread misconceptions persist about the significance of the OHP. In particular, there is little evidence that the OHP has operated as a model of explicit rationing. In reality, Oregon has not rationed services, nor has its policy of cutting public coverage for services produced substantial savings. These findings have important implications regarding the desirability and feasibility of adopting a policy of removing items from the list of insured medicare services in Canada. Oregon's experience suggests that drawing the line on medicare coverage would be more difficult and less financially rewarding than advocates claim

Topics: RA Public aspects of medicine
Publisher: Canadian Medical Association
Year: 2001
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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