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More health care utilization with more insurance coverage? Evidence from a latent class model with German data

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We analyse the impact of optional deductibles, private supplementary health insurance and income on the demand for health care utilization, measured as the number of physician visits with data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). With a set of newly available variables for the years 2002, 2004 and 2006 that measure individual health more accurately and including risk-attitudes towards health we find that possible endogeneity of the insurance choice is not a problem. A latent class approach that takes into account the panel structure of the data reveals that especially individuals who have few doctor visits, the low users, respond strongest to insurance status and income. In this group we find that more insurance increases the demand for physician visits and there is a pro-rich inequity in health care utilization. No such effects are found for the high users.
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Keywords: I11; I18; G22; health insurance; deductibles; supplementary insurance; count data; latent class panel model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI), Hohenzollernstr. 1–3 45128 Essen, Germany

Publication date: 01 December 2012

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