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The Effectiveness of Health Screening

  • Franz Hackl
  • Martin Halla
  • Michael Hummer
  • Gerald J. Pruckner

Using a matched insurant-general practitioner panel data set, we estimated the effect of a general health-screening program on individuals’ health status and health care cost. To account for selection into treatment, we used regional variations in the intensity of exposure to supply-determined screening recommendations as an instrumental variable. We found that screening participation substantially increased inpatient and outpatient health care costs for up to two years after treatment. In the medium term, we found cost savings in the outpatient sector, whereas in the long run, no statistically significant effects of screening on either health care cost component could be discerned. In summary, screening participation increases health care costs. Since we did not find any statistically significant effect of screening participation on insurants’ health status at any point in time, we do not recommend a general health-screening program. However, given that we found some evidence for cost-saving potentials for the sub-sample of younger insurants, we suggest more targeted screening programs.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2012-01.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2012_01
Contact details of provider: Postal: NRN Labor Economics and the Welfare State, c/o Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, Altenbergerstr. 69, 4040 Linz
Phone: +43-732-2468-8216
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  1. Park, Cheolsung & Kang, Changhui, 2008. "Does education induce healthy lifestyle?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1516-1531, December.
  2. Bhattacharya, Jay & Bundorf, M. Kate, 2009. "The incidence of the healthcare costs of obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 649-658, May.
  3. Eline Aas, 2009. "Pecuniary compensation increases participation in screening for colorectal cancer," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 337-354.
  4. Lange, Fabian, 2011. "The role of education in complex health decisions: Evidence from cancer screening," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 43-54, January.
  5. Joshua D. Angrist, 2000. "Estimation of Limited-Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Charles L. Baum II & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2007. "Age, Socioeconomic Status and Obesity Growth," NBER Working Papers 13289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sabates, Ricardo & Feinstein, Leon, 2006. "The role of education in the uptake of preventative health care: The case of cervical screening in Britain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(12), pages 2998-3010, June.
  8. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jay Bhattacharya & Neeraj Sood, 2011. "Who Pays for Obesity?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 139-58, Winter.
  10. Angrist, Joshua D, 2001. "Estimations of Limited Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice: Reply," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(1), pages 27-28, January.
  11. Whynes, David K. & Philips, Zoe & Avis, Mark, 2007. "Why do women participate in the English cervical cancer screening programme?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 306-325, March.
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