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Uncertainty, the Demand for Health Care, and Precautionary Saving

  • Nocetti Diego

    ()

    (Clarkson University)

  • Smith William T

    ()

    (University of Memphis)

We analyze the demand for medical care and precautionary saving in a framework with uncertainty surrounding the incidence of illness and the effectiveness of medical treatments and a representation of preferences that disentangles ordinal preferences, risk preferences, and intertemporal smoothing preferences. We consider a pure consumption model with exogenous health capital and a model where young consumers invest in preventive care to increase their future health stock. In both cases, we establish conditions for the different sources for uncertainty to induce precautionary saving and we evaluate how uncertainty affects the demand of curative and preventive care. We also show that given the self-insurance function of preventive care, consumers' welfare may increase with the degree of uncertainty surrounding health care effectiveness.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 10 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (August)
Pages: 1-31

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:10:y:2010:i:1:n:75
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