Helen G. Levy, PhD
Assistant Professor, Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago

"The Effect of Health Insurance on Access to Medical Care: Results from an Audit Study"

April 2, 2004
12:00 - 1:30 PM

Colonial Penn Center Auditorium

(co-sponsored by RAND/Hartford Center of Interdisciplinary Geriatric Health Care Research)

Abstract

Biosketch:
Helen G. Levy is an assistant professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. Her research interests include the areas of health economics, public finance and labor economics. Her most recent work explores the financial consequences of poor health for households without health insurance and the determinants of men's and women's occupation choices.

Levy received a B.A. in mathematics and history from Yale University and a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. From 1998 to 2000, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California at Berkeley. She has served as a research analyst for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is a faculty research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Abstract:
This study examines the effect of insurance on access to medical care using an audit study design. Interviewers posing as patients called medical clinics claiming to have been seen in the ER the previous night and told by a physician to obtain follow-up care within seven days. The interviewers made two sets of calls to each clinic, one posing as a privately insured patient and the other posing as either a Medicaid or an uninsured patient. The results show that about two-thirds of all privately insured callers got an appointment within a week, while only about 35 percent of Medicaid callers did. Uninsured callers got appointments at the same rate as privately insured callers; however, uninsured patients were generally required to bring a substantial amount of cash with them to the appointment (median amount = $100). The results suggest that insurance is neither necessary nor sufficient to ensure access to medical care.


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