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Keywords:

  • universal health insurance;
  • mortality;
  • elderly;
  • Taiwan

SUMMARY

A recent paper estimates the effects of Taiwan's National Health Insurance (NHI) on the elderly and concludes that NHI greatly increased the medical care utilization of the elderly but did not reduce their mortality. Using more recent and more accurate mortality data of the same group of elderly, this note re-estimates the NHI effect on mortality and finds that the mortality hazard of the previously uninsured elderly in the post-NHI period was on average 24% lower than it would have been in the absence of NHI. However, the NHI effect on the mortality hazard is only evident in the first 6 years following the enactment of NHI, suggesting that it may be difficult to undo the damage caused by the lack of insurance in early life. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.