Contrary to Fears, the Newly Insured Did Not Use More Services Than Others

Pilot study on measuring health care use among the low-income uninsured

From 1991 to 1995, researchers at the University of Southern Maine, Human Services Development Institute compared health care utilization rates between previously uninsured and previously insured persons enrolled in state-sponsored insurance programs.

The study sought to inform the debate, in the early 1990s, on the merits of universal health insurance coverage—particularly the concern of insurers' that the uninsured population would use health care services at a disproportionately higher rate, thereby increasing the costs.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization national program.

Key Findings

  • Researchers found that previously uninsured, low-income individuals used health care services at the same rate as or slightly lower rates than commercially insured individuals in the same health plan.

  • Analysis showed some small some small differences in health care utilization patterns for the previously uninsured.