Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Instrumental Variable Estimates Using Health Insurer Claims Data (PDF)

This paper takes a different approach to estimating demand for medical care that uses the negotiated prices between insurers and providers as an instrument. The instrument is viewed as a textbook “cost shifting” instrument that impacts plan offerings, but is unobserved by consumers. The paper finds a price elasticity of demand of around -0.20, matching the elasticity found in the RAND Health Insurance Experiment. The paper also studies within-market variation in demand for prescription drugs and other medical care services and obtains comparable price elasticity estimates.

Abe C. Dunn

JEL Code(s) I10 Published