Choice of health insurance by families of the mentally ill

Partha Deb, Virginia Wilcox-Gök, Ann Holmes, Jeffrey Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


This paper investigates whether choice of health insurance is influenced by the perceived mental and physical health of family members among a sample of policy-holders with private health insurance. A multinomial probit model of the choice among major medical coverage only, traditional full coverage, and coverage through a health maintenance organization is estimated. Results indicate that the presence of at least one family member who rates his or her general health as poor does not affect the policy-holder's choice of health insurance. However, the presence of at least one family member considered at risk of mental illness does in some instances affect the policy-holder's choice of health insurance: We observe significant effects for policy-holders who are female, black, have some college education, work for a large firm, and live in an urban area. These findings suggest that adverse selection may arise when individuals are able to choose between health insurance policies with different degrees of coverage for mental health care and that such effects are far more pronounced for those people who consider themselves at risk for mental illness than physical illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-76
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996



  • Mental illness
  • Private health insurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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