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What Do People Buy When They Don't Buy Health Insurance and What Does that Say about Why They Are Uninsured?

Publication Abstract

Levy, Helen, and T. DeLeire. 2008. "What Do People Buy When They Don't Buy Health Insurance and What Does that Say about Why They Are Uninsured?" Inquiry-the Journal of Health Care Organization Provision and Financing, 45(4): 365-379.

Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, this study compares household spending on different goods by insured versus uninsured households, controlling for total spending and demographic characteristics. The analysis shows that uninsured households, on average, spend more on housing, food, alcohol, and tobacco compared to insured households. These results suggest that both prices and preferences, in addition to income, help explain why some households do not buy coverage; the findings also raise the possibility that the uninsured may lack coverage in part because they face higher prices for basic needs like housing and food.

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