To add to the evidence base on causal linkages between health insurance coverage and health status, controlling for sociodemographic factors, by analyzing longitudinal data.
Secondary data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), 2009‐17, which is a longitudinal, multigenerational study covering a wide array of socioeconomic topics that began in 1968 but has only recently begun collecting useful information on individual health insurance.
2017 data on self‐reported health status, work limitations, and death were analyzed as outcomes based upon the degree of exposure to health insurance in 2011‐17. All variables were collected biannually for four years beginning in 2011. Having health insurance at each point in time was, in turn, modeled as a function of several sociodemographic factors.
Data were downloaded using the crosswalk tool available at the PSID website. Because individual health insurance questions were only asked of heads and spouses in households beginning in 2011, we analyzed only these records.
Among respondents who were not in fair or poor health in 2009, each additional 2 years of subsequent reported insurance coverage reduced the chance of reporting fair or poor health in 2017 by 10 percent; however, this effect was not present for black respondents.
Our results suggest that the effect of health insurance on health status may compound over time, although unevenly by race. Since people who report fair or poor health status represent the bulk of utilization and spending, our findings provide evidence in support of viewing coverage expansions as investments that will pay dividends in the form of lower utilization over time. More work is needed to produce detailed estimates of cost savings, which may in turn influence policy, as well as to understand and address the source of racial disparity.