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The Problem of the Uninsured

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  • Ehrlich, Isaac

    () (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

  • Yin, Yong

    () (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Abstract

The problem of the uninsured – those eschewing the purchase of health insurance policies – cannot be fully understood without considering informal alternatives to market insurance called "self-insurance" and "self-protection", including the publicly and charitably-financed safety-net health care system. This paper tackles the problem of the uninsured by formulating a "full-insurance" paradigm that includes all 4 measures of insurance as interacting components, and analyzing their interdependencies. We apply both a baseline and extended versions of the model through calibrated simulations to estimate the degree to which these non-market alternatives can account for the fraction of the non-elderly adults who are uninsured, and estimate their behavioral and policy ramifications. Our results indicate that policy analyses that do not consider the role of self-efforts to avoid health losses can grossly distort the success of the ACA mandate to insure the uninsured and to improve the health and welfare outcomes of the previously uninsured.

Suggested Citation

  • Ehrlich, Isaac & Yin, Yong, 2012. "The Problem of the Uninsured," IZA Discussion Papers 6920, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6920
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ehrlich, Isaac & Becker, Gary S, 1972. "Market Insurance, Self-Insurance, and Self-Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(4), pages 623-648, July-Aug..
    2. Yang-Ming Chang & Issac Ehrlich, 1985. "Insurance, Protection from Risk, and Risk-bearing," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(3), pages 574-586, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    health insurance; health care; uninsured; self-insurance; self-protection;

    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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