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Did UberX Reduce Ambulance Volume?


  • Leon S. Moskatel

    (Department of Medicine, Scripps Mercy Hospital;)

  • David J.G. Slusky

    (Department of Economics, The University of Kansas;)


Ambulances are a vital part of emergency medical services. However, they come in single, homogeneous, high intervention form, which is at times unnecessary, resulting in excessive costs for patients and insurers. In this paper, we ask whether UberX’s entry into a city caused substitution away from traditional ambulances for low risk patients, reducing overall volume. Using a city-panel over-time and leveraging that UberX enter markets sporadically over multiple years, we find that UberX entry reduced the per capital ambulance volume by at least 7%. Our result is robust to numerous specifications.

Suggested Citation

  • Leon S. Moskatel & David J.G. Slusky, 2017. "Did UberX Reduce Ambulance Volume?," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 201708, University of Kansas, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:kan:wpaper:201708

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. M. Keith Chen & Judith A. Chevalier & Peter E. Rossi & Emily Oehlsen, 2019. "The Value of Flexible Work: Evidence from Uber Drivers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(6), pages 2735-2794.
    2. Zarek C. Brot-Goldberg & Amitabh Chandra & Benjamin R. Handel & Jonathan T. Kolstad, 2017. "What does a Deductible Do? The Impact of Cost-Sharing on Health Care Prices, Quantities, and Spending Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(3), pages 1261-1318.
    3. Courtemanche, Charles & Friedson, Andrew & Koller, Andrew P. & Rees, Daniel I., 2019. "The affordable care act and ambulance response times," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    4. Joseph J. Doyle Jr. & John A. Graves & Jonathan Gruber & Samuel A. Kleiner, 2015. "Measuring Returns to Hospital Care: Evidence from Ambulance Referral Patterns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(1), pages 170-214.
    5. Hall, Jonathan D. & Palsson, Craig & Price, Joseph, 2018. "Is Uber a substitute or complement for public transit?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 36-50.
    6. Nelson Erik & Sadowsky Nicole, 2019. "Estimating the Impact of Ride-Hailing App Company Entry on Public Transportation Use in Major US Urban Areas," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, January.
    7. Jason M. Lindo & Analisa Packham, 2017. "How Much Can Expanding Access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives Reduce Teen Birth Rates?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 348-376, August.
    8. Carrie Colla & Julie Bynum & Andrea Austin & Jonathan Skinner, 2016. "Hospital Competition, Quality, and Expenditures in the U.S. Medicare Population," NBER Working Papers 22826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
    10. Doyle, Joseph J. & Graves, John A. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2017. "Uncovering waste in US healthcare," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 25-39.
    11. Peter Cohen & Robert Hahn & Jonathan Hall & Steven Levitt & Robert Metcalfe, 2016. "Using Big Data to Estimate Consumer Surplus: The Case of Uber," NBER Working Papers 22627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 12th August 2019
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2019-08-12 11:00:31
    2. Uber, Lyft and the Urgency of Saving Money on Ambulances
      by ? in The Incidental Economist on 2018-10-03 11:00:00
    3. With No Legal Guardrails for Patients, Ambulances Drive Surprise Medical Billing
      by ? in Physician's Weekly on 2020-09-15 04:04:04


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    Cited by:

    1. Courtemanche, Charles & Friedson, Andrew & Koller, Andrew P. & Rees, Daniel I., 2019. "The affordable care act and ambulance response times," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    2. Eleftheria Kontou & Noreen McDonald, 2021. "Associating ridesourcing with road safety outcomes: Insights from Austin, Texas," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(3), pages 1-18, March.
    3. Teltser, Keith & Lennon, Conor & Burgdorf, Jacob, 2021. "Do ridesharing services increase alcohol consumption?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    4. Zhou, You, 2020. "Ride-sharing, alcohol consumption, and drunk driving," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    5. Charles Courtemanche & Andrew Friedson & Daniel I. Rees, 2018. "Ambulance Utilization in New York City after the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act," NBER Working Papers 24480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Thomas Tacker, 2021. "Competitive Safety in Uber versus the Taxi Industry," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 36(Fall 2021), pages 49-66.
    7. Barreto, Yuri & Silveira Neto, Raul da Mota & Carazza, Luis, 2021. "Uber and traffic safety: Evidence from Brazilian cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).
    8. Chaudhary, Sookti & Davis, Alison & Troske, Kenneth & Troske, SuZanne, 2019. "Hospital Closures and Short-Run Change in Ambulance Call Times," IZA Discussion Papers 12797, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item


    Uber; Ambulances; Emergencies;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • L91 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Transportation: General

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