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Dangerous Liquidity and the Demand for Health Care: Evidence from the 2008 Stimulus Payments

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  • Tal Gross
  • Jeremy Tobacman

Abstract

Household finances can affect health and health care through several channels. To explore these channels, we exploit the randomized timing of the arrival of the 2008 Economic Stimulus Payments. We find that the payments raised the probability of an adult emergency department visit over the following 23 weeks by an average of 1.1 percent. This effect is difficult to reconcile with the Permanent Income Hypothesis. We observe little impact on avoidable hospitalizations or emergency visits for nonurgent conditions and no difference in effects as a function of health insurance coverage. By contrast, we show that the increase is driven by visits for urgent medical conditions, like drug- and alcohol-related visits. Complementary evidence suggests that consumers are not simply substituting from outpatient doctor visits to hospital care. The results thus suggest that liquidity constraints may not constitute a direct barrier to care, but rather that liquidity can increase health care utilization indirectly by increasing the need for care.

Suggested Citation

  • Tal Gross & Jeremy Tobacman, 2014. "Dangerous Liquidity and the Demand for Health Care: Evidence from the 2008 Stimulus Payments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(2), pages 424-445.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:49:y:2014:ii:1:p:424-445
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nicholas S. Souleles & Jonathan A. Parker & David S. Johnson, 2006. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1589-1610, December.
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    7. John R. Moran & JKosali Ilayperuma Simon, 2006. "Income and the Use of Prescription Drugs by the Elderly: Evidence from the Notch Cohorts," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Zizza, Roberta & Adamopoulou, Effrosyni, 2017. "Regular versus lump-sum payments in union contracts and household consumption," Working Paper Series 2013, European Central Bank.
    2. Andersson, Elvira & Lundborg, Petter & Vikström, Johan, 2015. "Income receipt and mortality — Evidence from Swedish public sector employees," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 21-32.
    3. Fuchs-Schündeln, N. & Hassan, T.A., 2016. "Natural Experiments in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    4. Cuffe, Harold E. & Gibbs, Christopher G., 2017. "The effect of payday lending restrictions on liquor sales," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 132-145.
    5. DiMaggio, Marco & Haughwout, Andrew F. & Kermani, Amir & Mazewski, Matthew & Pinkovskiy, Maxim L., 2016. "Health spending slowed down in spite of the crisis," Staff Reports 781, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revised 01 Oct 2019.
    6. Can Cui, 2017. "Cash-on-hand and demand for credit," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 1007-1039, May.

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