Lauryn Saxe Walker
Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Medicine Health Behavior and Policy
830 East Main St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Institutional Affiliation: Virginia Commonwealth University
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|December 2017||The Effect of Primary Care Visits on Health Care Utilization: Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial|
with Cathy J. Bradley, David Neumark: w24100
We conducted a randomized controlled trial, enrolling low-income uninsured adults in Virginia (United States), to determine whether cash incentives are effective at encouraging a primary care provider (PCP) visit, and at lowering utilization and costs. Subjects were randomized to four groups: untreated controls, and one of three incentive arms with incentives of $0, $25, or $50 for visiting a PCP within six months of group assignment. We used the exogenous variation generated by the experiment to obtain causal evidence on the effects of a PCP visit. We observed modest reductions in non-urgent emergency department use and increased outpatient use, but no reductions in overall costs. These findings in utilization are consistent with the expectation that PCPs offer an alternative to the emerg...