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Free GP care and psychological health: Quasi-experimental evidence from Ireland

Yuanyuan Ma (), Anne Nolan () and James P. Smith

Journal of Health Economics, 2020, vol. 72, issue C

Abstract: There is considerable ambiguity in the literature on the effect of health insurance on health. While the majority of previous analyses have examined physical health outcomes, analyses of the broader dimensions of health such as psychological health and wellbeing have been less frequent. Using data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) and a difference-in-differences research design, we examine the impact of free general practitioner (GP) care on psychological health among the older population and explore potential mechanisms. While we find no impact of public health insurance expansions on quality of life, life satisfaction, depression, and worry, the removal of GP fees for all those 70+ leads to a significantly lower level of perceived stress. The impact is mainly driven by poorer, sicker and single individuals. Further analyses show that removing GP fees leads to greater access to GP services and lower levels of financial stress.

Keywords: Public health insurance; Psychological health; Quasi-experiment; Ageing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C22 I13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2020.102351

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