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The Effect of Health Insurance on Emergency Department Visits: Evidence from an Age-Based Eligibility Threshold


  • Michael L. Anderson

    (UC Berkeley and NBER)

  • Carlos Dobkin

    (UC Santa Cruz and NBER)

  • Tal Gross

    (Columbia University and NBER)


Health insurance affects the rate at which individuals visit hospitals and emergency departments (EDs). We identify the causal effect of losing health insurance using a regression discontinuity design. We compare individuals just before and after their twenty third birthday, which insurers have used as a cutoff after which students are no longer eligible for their parents' health insurance: 1.5% of young adults lose their health insurance upon turning 23, and this transition leads to a 1.6% decrease in ED visits and a 0.8% decrease in hospital stays. We discuss why these estimates are larger than those observed among teenage populations. © 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael L. Anderson & Carlos Dobkin & Tal Gross, 2014. "The Effect of Health Insurance on Emergency Department Visits: Evidence from an Age-Based Eligibility Threshold," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 189-195, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:96:y:2014:i:1:p:189-195

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    Cited by:

    1. Barbaresco, Silvia & Courtemanche, Charles J. & Qi, Yanling, 2015. "Impacts of the Affordable Care Act dependent coverage provision on health-related outcomes of young adults," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 54-68.
    2. Dillender, Marcus, 2015. "The effect of health insurance on workers’ compensation filing: Evidence from the affordable care act's age-based threshold for dependent coverage," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 204-228.
    3. Dolores De la Mata & Carlos Felipe Gaviria, 2015. "Losing Health Insurance When Young: Impacts on Usage of Medical Services and Health," CINCH Working Paper Series 1508, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2015.
    4. Michela Ponzo & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2016. "Cost-Sharing and Use of Health Services in Italy: Evidence from a Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design," CSEF Working Papers 440, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    5. repec:eee:pubeco:v:157:y:2018:i:c:p:121-137 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Tianyan Hu & Sandra L. Decker & Shin-Yi Chou, 2014. "The Impact of Health Insurance Expansion on Physician Treatment Choice: Medicare Part D and Physician Prescribing," NBER Working Papers 20708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ausmita Ghosh & Kosali Simon, 2015. "The Effect of Medicaid on Adult Hospitalizations: Evidence from Tennessee’s Medicaid Contraction," NBER Working Papers 21580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Akosa Antwi, Yaa & Moriya, Asako S. & Simon, Kosali I., 2015. "Access to health insurance and the use of inpatient medical care: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act young adult mandate," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 171-187.
    9. repec:eee:jhecon:v:59:y:2018:i:c:p:109-124 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    health insurance; health care utilization;

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies


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