Professor Toshiaki Iizuka of the Graduate School of Economics, the University of Tokyo, and Professor Hitoshi Shigeoka of the Department of Public Policy Studies, have found that there is a zero price effect on children's medical expenses based on information on children's medical expense subsidies and receipt data. I found out.

 According to the University of Tokyo, the zero price effect refers to the large increase in demand for goods and services when the price is free.Professor Iizuka and his colleagues collected medical expense subsidy information from 6 municipalities in 294 prefectures with large populations from 2005 to 2015, combined it with medical receipt data for 6 to 15 year olds from the Japan Medical Data Center, and analyzed it. We investigated whether there was an effect.

 As a result, 1% of the patients had no out-of-pocket expenses and received outpatient visits at least once a month.On the other hand, it also became clear that even if a small amount of out-of-pocket payment is changed to a larger one, the decrease in demand does not become large.

 Since there is a zero-price effect on medical care costs, out-of-pocket visits decreased for children who visited doctors frequently despite their relatively good health.On the other hand, the number of children who were not in good health did not decrease.

 Many local governments across the country are working to reduce medical costs for children to zero. In the future, it will be necessary to strategically distinguish between "free" and "non-free" based on the value* of medical services.

* Except for many preventive medicines, such as vaccinations, which are already provided free of charge in Japan, preventive medicines such as examinations for obesity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and adolescent depression are considered “valueless” based on the literature in the medical field. High medical care”, and cases where inappropriate antibiotics are prescribed as “low value medical care”.

Paper information:[American Economic Journal: Applied Economics] Is Zero a Special Price? Evidence from Child Healthcare

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