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Does free complementary health insurance help the poor to access health care? Evidence from France

Listed author(s):
  • Michel Grignon
  • Marc Perronnin

    (Institut de recherche et de documentation en économie de la santé (IRDES), Paris, France)

  • John N. Lavis

The French government introduced a 'free complementary health insurance plan' in 2000, which covers most of the out-of-pocket payments faced by the poorest 10% of French residents. This plan was designed to help the non-elderly poor to access health care. To assess the impact of the introduction of the plan on its beneficiaries, we use a longitudinal data set to compare, for the same individual, the evolution of his|her expenditures before-and-after enrolment in the plan. This before-and-after analysis allows us to remove most of the spuriousness due to individual heterogeneity. We also use information on past coverage in a difference-in-difference analysis to evaluate the impact of specific benefits associated with the plan. We attempt at controlling for changes other than enrolment through a difference-in-difference analysis within the eligible (rather than enrolled) population. Our main result is the plan's lack of an overall effect on utilization. This result is likely attributable to the fact that those who were enrolled automatically in the free plan (the majority of enrollees), already benefited from a relatively generous plan. The significant effect among those who enrolled voluntarily in the free plan was likely driven by those with no previous complementary coverage. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 17 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 203-219

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:17:y:2008:i:2:p:203-219
DOI: 10.1002/hec.1250
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  1. Martin Schellhorn, 2001. "The effect of variable health insurance deductibles on the demand for physician visits," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(5), pages 441-456.
  2. Thomas C. Buchmueller & Agnès Couffinhal & Michel Grignon & Marc Perronnin, 2004. "Access to physician services: does supplemental insurance matter? Evidence from France," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 669-687.
  3. Rainer Winkelmann, 2004. "Co-payments for prescription drugs and the demand for doctor visits - Evidence from a natural experiment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(11), pages 1081-1089.
  4. Gardiol, Lucien & Geoffard, Pierre-Yves & Grandchamp, Chantal, 2005. "Separating Selection and Incentive Effects in Health Insurance," CEPR Discussion Papers 5380, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Newhouse, Joseph P. & Phelps, Charles E. & Marquis, M. Susan, 1980. "On having your cake and eating it too : Econometric problems in estimating the demand for health services," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 365-390, August.
  6. Currie, J. & Thomas, D., 1993. "Medical Care for Children: Public Insurance, Private Insurance and Radical Differences in Utilisation," Papers 93-39, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
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