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The impact of patient cost-sharing on low-income populations: Evidence from Massachusetts

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  • Chandra, Amitabh
  • Gruber, Jonathan
  • McKnight, Robin

Abstract

Greater patient cost-sharing could help reduce the fiscal pressures associated with insurance expansion by reducing the scope for moral hazard. But it is possible that low-income recipients are unable to cut back on utilization wisely and that, as a result, higher cost-sharing will lead to worse health and higher downstream costs through increased use of inpatient and outpatient care. We use exogenous variation in the copayments faced by low-income enrollees in the Massachusetts Commonwealth Care program to study these effects. We estimate separate price elasticities of demand by type of service. Overall, we find price elasticities of about −0.16 for this low-income population — similar to elasticities calculated for higher-income populations in other settings. These elasticities are somewhat smaller for the chronically sick, especially for those with asthma, diabetes, and high cholesterol. These lower elasticities are attributable to lower responsiveness to prices across all categories of service, and to some statistically insignificant increases in inpatient care.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 33 (2014)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 57-66

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:33:y:2014:i:c:p:57-66

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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Keywords: Heath insurance; Cost sharing;

References

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  1. Buntin, Melinda Beeuwkes & Zaslavsky, Alan M., 2004. "Too much ado about two-part models and transformation?: Comparing methods of modeling Medicare expenditures," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 525-542, May.
  2. Amitabh Chandra & Jonathan Gruber & Robin McKnight, 2010. "Patient Cost Sharing in Low Income Populations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 303-08, May.
  3. Gaynor Martin & Li Jian & Vogt William B, 2007. "Substitution, Spending Offsets, and Prescription Drug Benefit Design," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-33, July.
  4. Amitabh Chandra & Jonathan Gruber & Robin McKnight, 2010. "Patient Cost-Sharing and Hospitalization Offsets in the Elderly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 193-213, March.
  5. Katherine Baicker & Dana Goldman, 2011. "Patient Cost-Sharing and Healthcare Spending Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 47-68, Spring.
  6. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-77, June.
  7. Katherine Baicker & Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein, 2012. "Behavioral Hazard in Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 18468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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