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Free for Children? Patient Cost-sharing and Healthcare Utilization

Toshiaki Iizuka and Hitoshi Shigeoka ()

No 2019-5, CEI Working Paper Series from Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University

Abstract: We examine how children's healthcare utilization responds to prices by exploiting over 10,000 variations in the levels and forms of patient cost-sharing across Japanese municipalities over time. Free care significantly increases outpatient spending, with price elasticities considerably smaller for children than adults. Small copayments alongside free care reduce utilization of healthier—rather than sicker—children, suggesting that moral hazard can be reduced without increasing financial and health risks. We find that cost-sharing is a "blunt tool," affecting utilization regardless of service type. Increased outpatient spending from free care neither improves short- and medium-term health outcomes nor reduces future healthcare spending

Keywords: Children; Patient Cost-Sharing; Healthcare Utilization; Price Elasticity; Zero-price Effects; Moral Hazard (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I18 I13 I11 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 68 p.
Date: 2019-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea and nep-ias
Note: This version: August 6, 2019
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http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/30538/1/wp2019-5.pdf

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Working Paper: Free for Children? Patient Cost-sharing and Healthcare Utilization (2018) Downloads
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