Health Insurance Reduces Mid-life Mortality

“…We evaluate a randomized pilot study in which the IRS sent informational letters to 3.9 million taxpayers who paid a tax penalty for lacking health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Drawing on administrative data, we study the effect of the intervention on taxpayers’ subsequent health insurance enrollment and mortality. We find the intervention led to increased coverage in the two years following treatment and that this additional coverage reduced mortality among middle-aged adults over the same time period. Our results provide the first experimental evidence that health insurance reduces mortality..”

“…Drawing on a randomized pilot intervention, we examined the effect of outreach about tax incentives to enroll in health insurance coverage among taxpayers who had previously paid a penalty for lacking coverage. We found positive effects of the intervention on subsequent enrollment decisions, particularly for taxpayers who were uninsured in the year prior to intervention. We also found that the intervention reduced mortality among middle-aged adults in the subsequent two years, which we attribute to the additional coverage the intervention induced. Our findings thus provide strong empirical support, and the first experimental evidence, for the hypothesis that health insurance coverage reduces mortality.”

Health Insurance and Mortality: Experimental Evidence from Taxpayer Outreach, The National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 26533, Issued December 2019, Jacob Goldin, Ithai Z. Lurie, Janet McCubbin

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