Are Publicly Insured Children Less Likely to Be Hospitalized?
Yes, but this may reflect excessive admission of those who are privately insured rather than under-admission of those who are publicly insured.
Children covered by private health insurance are more likely to be admitted to the hospital after a visit to the emergency room than children covered by a public health plan, such as Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program. This is the conclusion of Diane Alexander and Janet Currie's study, Are Publicly Insured Children Less Likely to Be Admitted to Hospital Than the Privately Insured (and Does It Matter)? (NBER Working Paper No. 22542). The study is based on an analysis of the health records of all children between the ages of three months and 13 years treated at a New Jersey hospital emergency room between 2006 and 2012.
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Hospitals typically are paid more per patient-day by private health insurance plans than by Medicaid or state health plans. This creates an incentive for hospitals to allocate beds first to the privately insured, and then, after meeting private insurance demand, to those with public insurance.
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