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The Impact of Health Insurance on Health

Posted: 6 Jun 2008  

Helen Levy

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David Meltzer

University of Chicago - Departments of Medicine and Economics, and Harris School

Abstract

How does health insurance affect health? After reviewing the evidence on this question, we reach three conclusions. First, many of the studies claiming to show a causal effect of health insurance on health do not do so convincingly because the observed correlation between insurance and good health may be driven by other, unobservable factors. Second, convincing evidence demonstrates that health insurance can improve health measures of some population subgroups, some of which, although not all, are the same subgroups that would be the likely targets of coverage expansion policies. Third, for policy purposes we need to know whether the results of these studies generalize. Solid answers to the multitude of important questions about how specific health insurance policy options may affect health seem likely to be forthcoming only with investment of substantial resources in social experiments.

Keywords: evidence, corrolation, causation, endogeneity

Suggested Citation

Levy, Helen and Meltzer, David, The Impact of Health Insurance on Health. Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 29, April 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1142030

Helen Levy (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR) ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David Owen Meltzer

University of Chicago - Departments of Medicine and Economics, and Harris School ( email )

5841 S. Maryland Ave.
B-220
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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