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Covering the Uninsured in the U.S

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  • Jonathan Gruber

Abstract

One of the major social policy issues facing the U.S. in the first decade of the 21st century is the large number of Americans lacking health insurance. This article surveys the major economic issues around covering the uninsured. I review the facts on insurance coverage and the nature of the uninsured; focus on explanations for why the U.S. has such a large, and growing, uninsured population; and discuss why we should care if individuals are uninsured. I then focus on policy options to address the problem of the uninsured, beginning with a discussion of the key issues and available evidence, and then turning to estimates from a micro-simulation model of the impact of alternative interventions to increase insurance coverage.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Gruber, 2008. "Covering the Uninsured in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 13758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13758
    Note: AG CH HC LS PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jonathan Gruber, 2005. "Tax Policy for Health Insurance," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 19, pages 39-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-277, June.
    3. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    4. Herring, Bradley, 2005. "The effect of the availability of charity care to the uninsured on the demand for private health insurance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 225-252, March.
    5. Janet Currie & Jonathan Gruber, 1994. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Expansions of Medicaid Eligibility for Pregnant Women," NBER Working Papers 4644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Marquis, M. Susan & Long, Stephen H., 1995. "Worker demand for health insurance in the non-group market," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 47-63, May.
    7. Jonathan Gruber, 1998. "Health Insurance and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 6762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Brigitte C. Madrian, 1994. "Employment-Based Health Insurance and Job Mobility: Is there Evidence of Job-Lock?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 27-54.
    9. Cutler, David M. & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 2000. "The anatomy of health insurance," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 563-643 Elsevier.
    10. Lo Sasso, Anthony T. & Buchmueller, Thomas C., 2004. "The effect of the state children's health insurance program on health insurance coverage," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 1059-1082, September.
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    12. Feldstein, Martin S, 1973. "The Welfare Loss of Excess Health Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 251-280, Part I, M.
    13. David M. Cutler & Jonathan Gruber, 1996. "Does Public Insurance Crowd out Private Insurance?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 391-430.
    14. Finkelstein, Amy, 2002. "The effect of tax subsidies to employer-provided supplementary health insurance: evidence from Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 305-339, June.
    15. Jonathan Gruber, 2002. "Taxes and Health Insurance," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 16, pages 37-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "State-mandated benefits and employer-provided health insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 433-464, November.
    17. Dahlia K. Remler & Jason E. Rachlin & Sherry A. Glied, 2001. "What can the take-up of other programs teach us about how to improve take-up of health insurance programs?," NBER Working Papers 8185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Rask, Kevin N. & Rask, Kimberly J., 2000. "Public insurance substituting for private insurance: new evidence regarding public hospitals, uncompensated care funds, and medicaid," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 1-31, January.
    19. Patricia M. Anderson & Bruce D. Meyer, 1997. "Unemployment Insurance Takeup Rates and the After-Tax Value of Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 913-937.
    20. Feldman, Roger & Dowd, Bryan, 1991. "A New Estimate of the Welfare Loss of Excess Health Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 297-301, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas C. Buchmueller & Alan C. Monheit, 2009. "Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance and the Promise of Health Insurance Reform," NBER Working Papers 14839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2009. "Regulation of private health insurance markets: Lessons from enrollment, plan type choice, and adverse selection in Medicare Part D," NBER Working Papers 15392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Michel Grignon & Bidénam Kambia-Chopin, 2009. "Income and the Demand for Complementary Health Insurance in France," Working Papers DT24, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Apr 2009.
    4. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2011. "The Demand for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage: Evidence from Four Waves of the Retirement Perspectives Survey," NBER Chapters,in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 159-182 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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