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The Impact of Financial Assistance Programs on Health Care Utilization

Aug 2021
Working Paper
By  Alyce Adams, Raymond Kluender, Neale Mahoney, Jinglin Wang, Francis Wong, Wesley Yin
Most hospitals and managed care organizations have financial assistance programs that aim to reduce financial burdens and improve health care access for low-income patients. We use administrative data from Kaiser Permanente to study the effects of financial assistance on health care utilization. Using a regression discontinuity design based on an income threshold for program eligibility, we find that financial assistance significantly increases health care utilization initially, though effects dissipate three quarters after program receipt. Financial assistance also increases the detection of and medication refills for treatment-sensitive conditions, suggesting financial assistance may increase receipt of high-value care.