The Health Care Safety Net and Crowd-Out of Private Health Insurance
There is an extensive literature on the extent to which public health insurance coverage through Medicaid induces less private health insurance coverage. However, little is known about the effect of other components of the health care safety net in crowding out private coverage. We examine the effect of Medicaid and uncompensated care provided by clinics and hospitals on insurance coverage. We construct a long panel of metropolitan area and state-level data on hospital uncompensated care and free and reduced price care offered by Federally Qualified Health Centers. We match this information to individual level data on coverage from the Current Population Survey for two distinct groups: children aged 14 and under and single, childless adults aged 18 to 64. Our results provide mixed evidence on the extent of crowd-out. Hospital uncompensated care does not appear to crowd-out health insurance coverage and health center uncompensated care appears to crowd-out private coverage for adults and, in some specifications, children.