June 1, 2004
This paper uses the British Household Panel Survey for the years 1996-2000 to investigate the relationship between saving and private medical insurance in the UK. Because the National Health Service (NHS) gives comprehensive health coverage and is generally free at source, one would not expect private medical insurance to crowd-out saving. However, the NHS being characterised by long waiting lists and generally poor quality, many people prefer to use private health services. In such circumstances, those individuals who are not covered by private medical insurance, and who are therefore more exposed to facing unexpected out-of-pocket private health care expenditures or income losses while waiting for public treatment might save more for precautionary reasons than those who are covered. According to our findings, which are based on a wide range of econometric specifications, there is a positive association between insurance coverage and saving, suggesting that private medical insurance does not generally crowd-out private saving. However, we found some evidence of crowding-out in those areas where the quality of medical facilities is perceived as poor, and in rural areas, characterised by fewer NHS providers.
Journal of Health Economics
Volume: 23 (4):761-783
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