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Here are some highlights:

What do the data tell us about insurance companies rescinding coverage and refusing to pay claims if individuals fail to list any medical conditions? Here’s what Duggan writes:

A House committee investigation found that three large insurers rescinded nearly 20,000 policies over a five-year period, saving these companies $300 million that would otherwise have been paid out as claims (Waxman and Barton 2009). (p. 188)

Now, 20,000 sounds like a large number but remember that these are three large insurers who could easily, among them, have one million policy holders. 20,000 over five years is 4,000 a year. So taking the one-million assumption, which I think is too low, one would conclude that 4/10 of a percent of insured people every year lost their insurance in this way.

Another nugget is his number on uncompensated care, which he estimates at $56 billion in 2008. Given that approximately 255 million had insurance at any given time that year, this amounts to $220 per insured person. That’s large, but it’s not huge. The Samaritan’s Dilemma, it appears, is smaller than many have thought.

I guess it’s probably clear why Duggan couldn’t write a nice consistent exposition of health economics: it would have undercut his big boss’s case for intervention. That shouldn’t stop us, though, from reaching a deeper understanding.

You’ll enjoy reading the rest.

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