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Waiting times and the decision to buy private health insurance. CHERE Working Paper 2010/9

Author

Listed:
  • Meliyanni Johar

    () (CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney)

  • Glenn Jones
  • Michael Keane

    ()

  • Elizabeth Savage

    ()

  • Olena Stavrunova

Abstract

Over 45% of Australians buy health insurance for private treatment in hospital. This is despite having access to universal and free public hospital treatment. Anecdotal evidence suggests that one possible explanation for the high rate of insurance coverage is to avoid long waiting times for public hospital treatment. In this study, we investigate the effect of expected waiting time on individual decisions to buy private health insurance. Individuals are assumed to form an expectation of their own waiting time as a function of their demographics and health status. We estimate models of expected waiting time using administrative data on the population hospitalised for elective procedures in public hospitals in 2004-05 and use the parameter estimates to impute expected waiting times for individuals in a representative sample of the population. We model the impact of expected waiting time on the decision to purchase private health insurance. In the insurance demand model, cross-sample predictions are adjusted by the individuals? probability of hospital admission. We find that expected waiting time does not increase the probability of buying insurance but a high probability of experiencing a long wait does. Overall we find there is no significant impact of waiting time on insurance purchase. In addition, we find that the inclusion of individual waiting time variables removes the evidence for favourable selection into private insurance, as measured by self-assessed health. This result suggests that a source of the favourable selection by reported health status may be aversion to long waits among healthier people.

Suggested Citation

  • Meliyanni Johar & Glenn Jones & Michael Keane & Elizabeth Savage & Olena Stavrunova, 2010. "Waiting times and the decision to buy private health insurance. CHERE Working Paper 2010/9," Working Papers 2010/9, CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney.
  • Handle: RePEc:her:chewps:2010/9
    as

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    File URL: http://www.chere.uts.edu.au/pdf/wp2010_9.pdf
    File Function: First version, May 2010
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Johannesson, Magnus & Johansson, Per-Olov & Soderqvist, Tore, 1998. "Time spent on waiting lists for medical care: an insurance approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 627-644, October.
    2. Denise Doiron & Glenn Jones & Elizabeth Savage, 2008. "Healthy, wealthy and insured? The role of self-assessed health in the demand for private health insurance," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 317-334.
    3. Mireia Jofre-Bonet, 2000. "Public health care and private insurance demand: The waiting time as a link," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 51-71, January.
    4. Hanming Fang & Michael P. Keane & Dan Silverman, 2008. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 303-350, April.
    5. Savage, Elizabeth & Wright, Donald J., 2003. "Moral hazard and adverse selection in Australian private hospitals: 1989-1990," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 331-359, May.
    6. Joan Costa-Font & Montserrat Font-Vilalta, 2004. "Preference for National Health Service Use and the Demand for Private Health Insurance in Spain," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance, The International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 705-718, October.
    7. Joan Costa & Jaume Garcia, 2003. "Demand for private health insurance: how important is the quality gap?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(7), pages 587-599.
    8. Randall P. Ellis & Elizabeth Savage, 2008. "Run for Cover Now or Later? The impact of premiums, threats and deadlines on supplementary private health insurance in Australia," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series wp2008-013, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    9. Thomas C. Buchmueller & Agnes Couffinhal, 2004. "Private Health Insurance in France," OECD Health Working Papers 12, OECD Publishing.
    10. Denzil Fiebig & Elizabeth Savage & Rosalie Viney, 2006. "Does the reason for buying health insurance influence behaviour? CHERE Working Paper 2006/1," Working Papers 2006/1, CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney.
    11. Colm Harmon & Brian Nolan, 2001. "Health insurance and health services utilization in Ireland," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(2), pages 135-145.
    12. Carol Propper, 1987. "An econometric estimation of the demand for private health insurance," Working Papers 024chedp, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Why do Australians Buy Private Health Insurance?
      by Ariel Goldring in Free Market Mojo on 2010-08-02 17:00:06

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    Cited by:

    1. Meliyanni Johar & Glenn Jones & Michael P. Keane & Elizabeth Savage & Olena Stavrunova, 2013. "The Demand for Private Health Insurance: Do Waiting Lists Matter?” – Revisited," Economics Papers 2013-W09, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    2. Meliyanni Johar & Glenn Jones & Michael Keane & Elizabeth Savage & Olena Stavrunova, 2010. "The demand for private health insurance: do waiting lists or waiting times matter? CHERE Working Paper 2010/8," Working Papers 2010/8, CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Private health insurance; Australia;

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health

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