Effect of Internet Health Information on Health Care Use
This study estimates the effect of Internet health information on health care utilisation. The causal variable of interest is a binary variable that indicates whether or not an individual has used the Internet to search for health information. Health care utilisation is measured by an individual's number of visits to a health professional. I use the variation in telecommunication laws of U.S. states as a novel instrument to identify the causal effect. The analysis results show that, on average, using the Internet as health information source increases the utilisation of health care. The effect is quantitatively large and precisely estimated. An ordinary least squares regression underestimates the effect, even after controlling for a number of observed individual characteristics.
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