Abstract: health care utilization and the economic condition

The relationship between economic conditions and health care utilization is extremely important. Understanding how a recession or expansion affects a nation’s health would enable government legislators and budget officials—as major payers of health care—to better anticipate health care utilization and model the demand for health care in order to slow the upward spiral of health costs. Using quarterly panel data for Florida hospitals from 1997 to 2009, I will use a fixed effects model to estimate how the economic condition affects health care utilization. I will use the county unemployment rate to proxy for the economic condition and the number of inpatients with preventable diagnoses who are admitted through the emergency room department to approximate health care utilization. I found that even when controlling for population, hospital, and time effects, a one percent increase in the unemployment rate results in a .18 percent increase in the number of patients with preventable diagnoses who were admitted through the ED. Also in line with the literature, I found that men are also more affected by the economic condition than women and blacks are more affected than whites. The economic condition has a negative effect on the number of elective procedures ED inpatients have.


  1. Meredith Dost says:

    This project will prove especially interesting with the recent health care reform legislation and the upcoming elections which give the possibility of new health care bills to be passed/repealed. I find it very interesting that men are more affected by the economic condition than women…I wonder if for both recessions and expansions this is the case. Good luck with your research! It is always exciting to be researching something that is so current and controversial.