Public financing of health expenditures, insurance, and health outcomes

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Abstract:

The effects of public financing of health expenditures, insurance coverage and other factors on health outcomes are examined within health production models estimated using 1960–1992 data across 20 OECD countries. Mortality rates are found to depend on the mix of health care expenditures and the type of health insurance coverage. Increases in the publicly financed share of health expenditures are associated with increases in mortality rates. Increases in inpatient and ambulatory insurance coverage are associated with reduced mortality. The effects of GDP, health expenditures and age structure on mortality are similar to those in previous studies. Tobacco use, alcohol use, fat consumption, female labour force participation, and education levels are also significantly related to overall mortality rates. Increases in income inequality are associated with lower mortality rates, suggesting that the negative relationship between inequality and health outcomes suggested by some previous studies does not remain when a more complete model is estimated. The result that increases in public financing increase mortality rates is robust to a number of changes in specifications and samples. Thus, as countries increase the level of their health expenditures, they may want to avoid increasing the proportion of their expenditures that are publicly financed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00036840210135665

Publication date: November 20, 2002

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