Health Insurance Expansions and the Content of Coverage: Is Something Better Than Nothing?
Prior research on health insurance expansions has ignored the content of coverage, yet the nature of coverage offered is likely to affect both take-up by the uninsured and the public policy-relevant consequences of the expansion. This paper uses the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the Survey of Program Dynamics, and the Rand Health Insurance Experiment to show that uninsured people are likely to value certain types of coverage more than others. Using a simulation model of the value of coverage expansions, I show that front-end coverage with a low-benefit maximum is likely to be perceived as more valuable than catastrophic coverage by low-income uninsured people. Some high-deductible coverage may make uninsured people subjectively worse off.