Delisting eye examinations from public health insurance: Empirical evidence from Canada regarding impacts on patients and providers
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This paper examines the impacts of delisting routine eye exam services on patient eye care utilization and on providers' labour market outcomes in a public healthcare system. Provincial governments in Canada started to de-insure routine eye examinations from the basket of publicly insured healthcare services in the early 1990s. We explore these policy changes across Canadian provinces to estimate the impacts of delisting from the supply- and demand-sides. Demand side analysis suggests that, on average, for the working age population delisting decreased the probability of using eye care. However, the number of visits among those who continued to use eye care services did not change. Additionally, the delisting may have had unintended consequences by causing a large negative impact among low-income individuals, and there is suggestive evidence of a positive spillover on utilization by publicly-funded patients over age 64. On the supply side, using Canadian census data we find that delisting eye exams decreased optometrists' weekly work hours, raised their annual work weeks and had little effect on their income.
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