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Incentives in Obesity and Health Insurance

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  • Inas Rashad
  • Sara Markowitz

Abstract

The obesity rate in the United States has risen significantly in the past few decades. While a number of economic causes for the rise in obesity have been explored, little attention has been on the role of health insurance per se. This paper examines obesity in the context of a model where health insurance status can influence body weight. We attempt to isolate the effects of ex ante moral hazard, where people with health insurance may change their behaviors towards weight control. We use data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1993 to 2002 to determine the potential effect of having health insurance on measures of body weight. In our analyses, we control for a variety of confounding factors that may influence body weight and address the endogenous nature of health insurance. Our results show evidence that having insurance is associated with higher body mass (particularly for those above the poverty threshold) and an increased probability of being overweight. However, we find no evidence that having insurance affects the probability of being obese.

Suggested Citation

  • Inas Rashad & Sara Markowitz, 2007. "Incentives in Obesity and Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 13113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13113
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Melayne M. McInnes & Judith A. Shinogle, 2011. "Physical Activity: Economic and Policy Factors," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 249-282 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bhattacharya, Jay & Packalen, Mikko, 2012. "The other ex ante moral hazard in health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 135-146.
    3. Jay Bhattacharya & M. Kate Bundorf & Noemi Pace & Neeraj Sood, 2011. "Does Health Insurance Make You Fat?," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 35-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Trenton Smith & Hayley Chouinard & Philip Wandschneider, 2009. "Waiting for the Invisible Hand: Market Power and Endogenous Information in the Modern Market for Food," Working Papers 2009-07, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
    5. Barone, Adriana & O'Higgins, Niall, 2010. "Fat and out in Salerno and its province: Adolescent obesity and early school leaving in Southern Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 44-57, March.
    6. Kuku-Shittu, Oluyemisi & Gundersen, Craig & Garasky, Steven B., 2008. "Food insecurity and childhood obesity: beyond categorical and linear representations," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6163, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    7. Smith, Trenton G. & Chouinard, Hayley H. & Wandschneider, Philip R., 2011. "Waiting for the invisible hand: Novel products and the role of information in the modern market for food," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 239-249, April.
    8. Mallick, Debdulal, 2012. "Microfinance and Moneylender Interest Rate: Evidence from Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1181-1189.
    9. ZHAO, Guochang, 2015. "Can money ‘buy’ schooling achievement? Evidence from 19 Chinese cities," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 83-104.
    10. Faria, João Ricardo & Wang, Le & Wu, Zhongmin, 2012. "Debts on debts," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 203-219.
      • Joao Ricardo Faria & Le Wang & Zhongmin Wu, 2009. "Debts on debts," Working Papers 2009/7, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham Business School, Economics Division.

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    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General

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