Health Insurance Impacts on Health and Nonmedical Consumption in a Developing Country
27 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2005
Date Written: April 2005
The authors examine the effects of the introduction of Vietnam`s health insurance (VHI) program on health outcomes, health care utilization, and non-medical household consumption. The use of panel data collected before and after the insurance program`s introduction allows them to eliminate any confounding effects due to selection on time-invariant un-observables, and their coupling of propensity score matching with a double-difference estimator allows them to reduce the risk of biases due to inappropriate specification of the outcome regression model. The authors`results suggest that Vietnam`s health insurance program impacted favorably on height-for-age and weight-for-age of young school children, and on body mass index among adults. Their results suggest that among young children, VHI increases use of primary care facilities and leads to a substitution away from the use of pharmacists as a source of advice and non-prescribed medicines toward the use of them as a supplier of medicines prescribed by a health professional. Among older children and adults, VHI results in a marked increase in the use of hospital inpatient and outpatient departments. The results also suggest that VHI causes a reduction in annual out-of-pocket expenditures on health and an increase in non-medical household consumption, including food consumption, but mostly nonfood consumption. The authors`estimate of the VHI-induced reduction in out-of-pocket health spending is considerably smaller than their estimate of the VHI-induced increase in non-medical consumption, which is consistent with the idea that households hold back their consumption considerably if, through lack of health insurance, they are exposed to the risk of large out-of-pocket expenditures. This is especially plausible in a country where at the time (1993), a single visit to a public hospital cost on average the equivalent of 20 percent of a person`s annual nonfood consumption.
Keywords: Health Monitoring, Evaluation Health Economics, Finance Environmental Economics, Policies Insurance, Risk Mitigation Health Systems Development, Reform
JEL Classification: I1, O1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation