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Am Econ Rev. 1987 Jun;77(3):251-77.

Health insurance and the demand for medical care: evidence from a randomized experiment.


We estimate how cost sharing, the portion of the bill the patient pays, affects the demand for medical services. The data come from a randomized experiment. A catastrophic insurance plan reduces expenditures 31 percent relative to zero out-of-pocket price. The price elasticity is approximately -0.2. We reject the hypothesis that less favorable coverage of outpatient services increases total expenditure (for example, by deterring preventive care or inducing hospitalization).

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