NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

What Do People Buy When They Don't Buy Health Insurance And What Does that Say about Why They are Uninsured?

Helen Levy, Thomas DeLeire

NBER Working Paper No. 9826
Issued in July 2003
NBER Program(s):   HE

Using data from the 1994 through 1998 Consumer Expenditure Surveys, we compare household spending on 16 different goods (food at home, food away from home, housing, transportation, alcohol and tobacco, interest, furniture and appliances, home maintenance, clothing, utilities, medical care, health insurance, entertainment, personal care, education, and other) for insured versus uninsured households, controlling for total expenditures and demographic characteristics. The analysis shows that the uninsured in the lowest quartile of the distribution of total expenditures spend more on housing, food at home, alcohol and tobacco, and education than do the insured. In contrast, households in the top quartile of the distribution of total expenditures spend more on transportation and furniture and appliances than do comparable insured households. These results are consistent with the idea that poor uninsured households face higher housing prices than do poor insured households. Further research is necessary to determine whether high housing prices can help explain why some households do not have insurance.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9826

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