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Insurance and the Utilization of Medical Services

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  • Jonathan Meer
  • Harvey S. Rosen

Abstract

Most data sets indicate a positive correlation between having health insurance and utilizing health care services. Yet the direction of causality is not at all clear. If we ob-serve a positive correlation between the utilization of health care services and insurance status, we do not know if this is because people who anticipate poor health buy more in-surance (or take jobs with generous medical coverage), or because insurance lowers the cost of health care, increasing the quantity demanded. While a few attempts have been made to implement an instrumental variables (IV) strategy to deal with endogeneity, the instruments chosen have not been entirely convinc-ing. In this paper we revisit the IV estimation of the reduced form relationships between insurance and health care utilization taking advantage of what we argue is a good instru-ment - the individual's self-employment status. Our main finding is that a positive and statistically significant effect of insurance continues to obtain even after instrumenting. Indeed, instrumental variables estimates of the impact of insurance on utilization of a variety of health care services are larger than their non-instrumented counterparts. The validity of this exercise depends on the extent to which self-employment status is a suitable instrument. To argue this case, we analyze panel data on transitions from wage-earning into self-employment and show that individuals who select into self-employment do not differ systematically from those who remain wage-earners with re-spect to either the utilization of health care or health status. While this finding does not prove that self-employment status is an appropriate instrument, it is encouraging that there appear to be no underlying differences that might lead to self-employment per se affecting health services utilization.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Meer & Harvey S. Rosen, 2003. "Insurance and the Utilization of Medical Services," NBER Working Papers 9812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9812
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    Cited by:

    1. Sandra Hopkins & Michael P. Kidd & Aydogan Ulker, 2013. "Private Health Insurance Status and Utilisation of Dental Services in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(285), pages 194-206, June.
    2. Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2004. "Insurance and the utilization of medical services," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(9), pages 1623-1632, May.
    3. Murasko, Jason E., 2006. "Gender differences in the management of risk factors for cardiovascular disease: The importance of insurance status," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(7), pages 1745-1756, October.
    4. repec:ilo:ilowps:375955 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:joecag:v:6:y:2015:i:c:p:24-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Tracy L. Regan & Gulcin Gumus, 2006. "Tax Incentives as a Solution to the Uninsured: Evidence from the Self-Employed," Working Papers 0709, University of Miami, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2007.
    7. Bolhaar, Jonneke & Lindeboom, Maarten & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2012. "A dynamic analysis of the demand for health insurance and health care," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 669-690.
    8. Terza, Joseph V. & Basu, Anirban & Rathouz, Paul J., 2008. "Two-stage residual inclusion estimation: Addressing endogeneity in health econometric modeling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 531-543, May.
    9. Partha Deb & Chenghui Li & Pravin K. Trivedi & David M. Zimmer, 2006. "The effect of managed care on use of health care services: results from two contemporaneous household surveys," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(7), pages 743-760.
    10. Denzil Fiebig & Elizabeth Savage & Rosalie Viney, 2006. "Does the reason for buying health insurance influence behaviour? CHERE Working Paper 2006/1," Working Papers 2006/1, CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney.
    11. Dan Shane; & Pravin Trivedi;, 2012. "What Drives Differences in Health Care Demand? The Role of Health Insurance and Selection Bias," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/09, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    12. Quan-Hoang Vuong & Quang-Hoi Vu, 2016. "Sociodemographic factors and expenditure issues in Vietnamese consideration of periodic general health examination," Working Papers CEB 16-047, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    13. Hendrik P. van Dalen, 2006. "When Health Care Insurance does not make a Difference – The Case of Health Care ‘Made in China’," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-091/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    14. Quan-Hoang Vuong & Quang-Hoi Vu & Thu Trang Vuong, 2016. "What makes Vietnamese (not) attend periodic general health examinations? A cross-sectional study," Working Papers CEB 16-042, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    15. José A. Pagán & Andrea Puig & Beth J. Soldo, 2007. "Health insurance coverage and the use of preventive services by Mexican adults," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(12), pages 1359-1369.
    16. repec:pal:palcom:v:4:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-018-0127-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Sepehri, Ardeshir & Simpson, Wayne & Sarma, Sisira, 2006. "The influence of health insurance on hospital admission and length of stay--The case of Vietnam," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(7), pages 1757-1770, October.
    18. Thomas M. Selden, 2009. "The Impact of Increased Tax Subsidies on the Insurance Coverage of Self-Employed Families: Evidence from the 1996–2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    19. Stephen Kwasi Opoku Duku & Francis Asenso-Boadi & Edward Nketiah-Amponsah & Daniel Kojo Arhinful, 2016. "Utilization of healthcare services and renewal of health insurance membership: evidence of adverse selection in Ghana," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 1-12, December.

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    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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