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Does Universal Coverage Improve Health? The Massachusetts Experience

  • Charles J. Courtemanche
  • Daniela Zapata

In 2006, Massachusetts passed health care reform legislation designed to achieve nearly universal coverage through a combination of insurance market reforms, mandates, and subsidies that later served as the model for national reform. Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we provide evidence that health care reform in Massachusetts led to better overall self-assessed health. Various robustness checks and placebo tests support a causal interpretation of the results. We also document improvements in several determinants of overall health: physical health, mental health, functional limitations, joint disorders, and body mass index. Next, we show that the effects on overall health were strongest among those with low incomes, non-whites, near-elderly adults, and women. Finally, we use the reform to instrument for health insurance and estimate a sizeable impact of coverage on health.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17893.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Publication status: published as Charles J. Courtemanche & Daniela Zapata, 2014. "Does Universal Coverage Improve Health? The Massachusetts Experience," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 33(1), pages 36-69, 01.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17893
Note: HC HE PE
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