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Are Publicly Insured Children Less Likely to be Admitted to Hospital than the Privately Insured (and Does it Matter)?

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  • Diane Alexander
  • Janet Currie

Abstract

There is continuing controversy about the extent to which publicly insured children are treated differently than privately insured children, and whether differences in treatment matter. We show that on average, hospitals are less likely to admit publicly insured children than privately insured children who present at the ER and the gap grows during high flu weeks, when hospital beds are in high demand. This pattern is present even after controlling for detailed diagnostic categories and hospital fixed effects, but does not appear to have any effect on measurable health outcomes such as repeat ER visits and future hospitalizations. Hence, our results raise the possibility that instead of too few publicly insured children being admitted during high flu weeks, there are too many publicly and privately insured children being admitted most of the time.

Suggested Citation

  • Diane Alexander & Janet Currie, 2016. "Are Publicly Insured Children Less Likely to be Admitted to Hospital than the Privately Insured (and Does it Matter)?," NBER Working Papers 22542, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22542
    Note: CH HC HE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Mortality, Education, Income, and Inequality among American Cohorts," NBER Chapters, in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 129-170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    3. Rosenbach, M.L., 1989. "The impact of Medicaid on physician use by low-income children," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 79(9), pages 1220-1226.
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    5. Mocan, Naci & Raschke, Christian & Unel, Bulent, 2015. "The impact of mothers’ earnings on health inputs and infant health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 204-223.
    6. Deaton, Angus & Lubotsky, Darren, 2003. "Mortality, inequality and race in American cities and states," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1139-1153, March.
    7. Dafny, Leemore & Gruber, Jonathan, 2005. "Public insurance and child hospitalizations: access and efficiency effects," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 109-129, January.
    8. David W. Brown & Amanda E. Kowalski & Ithai Z. Lurie, 2015. "Medicaid as an Investment in Children: What is the Long-Term Impact on Tax Receipts?," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1979, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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    10. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1995. "Medical Care for Children: Public Insurance, Private Insurance, and Racial Differences in Utilization," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 135-162.
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    JEL classification:

    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private

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