NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

How Much Uncompensated Care do Doctors Provide?

Jonathan Gruber, David Rodriguez

NBER Working Paper No. 13585
Issued in November 2007
NBER Program(s):HC

The magnitude of provider uncompensated care has become an important public policy issue. Yet existing measures of uncompensated care are flawed because they compare uninsured payments to list prices, not to the prices actually paid by the insured. We address this issue using a novel source of data from a vendor that processes financial data for almost 4000 physicians. We measure uncompensated care as the net amount that physicians lose by lower payments from the uninsured than from the insured. Our best estimate is that physicians provide negative uncompensated care to the uninsured, earning more on uninsured patients than on insured patients with comparable treatments. Even our most conservative estimates suggest that uncompensated care amounts to only 0.8% of revenues, or at most $3.2 billion nationally. These results highlight the important distinction between charges and payments, and point to the need for a re-definition of uncompensated care in the health sector going forward.

download in pdf format
   (124 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13585

Published: Gruber, Jonathan & Rodriguez, David, 2007. "How much uncompensated care do doctors provide?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1151-1169, December.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Sun, Jena, Lakdawalla, Reyes, Philipson, and Goldman w15574 An Economic Evaluation of the War on Cancer
Mullen, Frank, and Rosenthal w14886 Can You Get What You Pay For? Pay-For-Performance and the Quality of Healthcare Providers
Neumark and Wascher w12663 Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research
Currie, DellaVigna, Moretti, and Pathania w14721 The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain
Campbell and Froot International Experiences with Securities Transaction Taxes
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us