Does Uninsurance Affect the Health Outcomes of the Insured? Evidence from Heart Attack Patients in California

Meltem Daysal, University of Maryland

In this paper, I examine the impact of uninsured patients on the health outcomes of the insured. I focus on one measure of health outcome, the in-hospital mortality rate of insured heart attack patients, and implement panel data models using patient discharge data from California hospitals for the period 1999-2006. Overall, I find that uninsured patients have an economically significant effect on the health outcomes of insured heart attack patients. My results indicate that eliminating uninsurance would reduce the annual number of insured heart attack deaths by 125-200, roughly corresponding to a 3-5% reduction in the total number of deaths. My calculations place the marginal cost of a statistical life year saved from reducing uninsurance between $38,093 and $63,569, implying that reducing uninsurance may be a cost effective way of improving the health outcomes of heart attack patients.

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Presented in Poster Session 6