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J Health Econ. 1999 Apr;18(2):141-52.

The value of health insurance: the access motive.

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Division of Health Services Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55126, USA.


Why do people purchase health insurance? Many economists would answer that it permits purchasers to avoid risk of financial loss. This note suggests that health insurance is also demanded because it represents a mechanism for gaining access to health care that would otherwise be unaffordable. For example, although a US$300,000 procedure is unaffordable to a person with US$50,000 in net worth, access is possible through insurance because the annual premium is only a fraction of the procedure's cost. The value of insurance for coverage of unaffordable care is derived from the value of the medical care that insurance makes accessible.

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