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Health Insurance and Precautionary Saving: A Structural Analysis


  • Minchung Hsu

    (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)


Starr-McCluer (1996) documented an empirical finding showing that US households covered by health insurance saved more than those without coverage, which is inconsistent with the standard consumption-saving theory. This study conducts a structural analysis and suggests that institutional factors, particularly, a social insurance or safety net system and an employment-based health insurance system, can account for this puzzling finding. A dynamic equilibrium model is built that combines these two institutions with heterogeneous agents making endogenous decisions regarding saving, the labor supply and health insurance when they are young. The model, in which agents save in a precautionary manner, can generate Starr-McCluer's empirical finding. The result implies that Starr-McCluer's results are not inconsistent with the standard theory of saving under uncertainty, but it does indicate that the standard saving regression model is unable to reveal the precautionary saving motive. Counterfactual experiments are performed to provide implications for empirical analyses. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Minchung Hsu, 2013. "Health Insurance and Precautionary Saving: A Structural Analysis," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(3), pages 511-526, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:10-46
    DOI: 10.1010/

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michèle Tertilt, 2007. "Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 402-418, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Svetlana Pashchenko & Ponpoje (Poe) Porapakkarm & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2017. "The Lifetime Costs of Bad Health," 2017 Meeting Papers 533, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Eric French & Hans-Martin von Gaudecker & John Bailey Jones, 2016. "The Effect of the Affordable Care Act on the Labor Supply, Savings, and Social Security of Older Americans," Working Papers wp354, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    3. Hsu, Minchung & Huang, Xianguo & Yupho, Somrasri, 2015. "The development of universal health insurance coverage in Thailand: Challenges of population aging and informal economy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 227-236.
    4. Svetlana Pashchenko & Ponpoje Porapakkarm, 2016. "Cross-Subsidization in Employer-Based Health Insurance and the Effects of Tax Subsidy Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 69(3), pages 583-612, September.
    5. Kitao, Sagiri, 2014. "A life-cycle model of unemployment and disability insurance," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 1-18.
    6. Pashchenko, Svetlana & Porapakkarm, Ponpoje, 2013. "Work Incentives of Medicaid Beneficiaries and The Role of Asset Testing," MPRA Paper 49730, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. repec:eee:dyncon:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:126-153 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Ponpoje (Poe) Porapakkarm & Svetlana Pashchenko, 2013. "Labor Supply Incentives of Medicaid," 2013 Meeting Papers 1082, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Ferreira, Pedro Cavalcanti & Gomes, Diego B.P., 2017. "Health care reform or more affordable health care?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 126-153.
    10. Pashchenko, Svetlana & Porapakkarm, Ponpoje, 2015. "Welfare costs of reclassification risk in the health insurance market," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 21-44.

    More about this item


    Precautionary savings; Social insurance; Employment-based health insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets


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