Universal Public Health Insurance, Adult Status, and Labour Supply in Jamaica

Apr 2017
This policy brief answers three main questions with respect to the no-user-fee policy adopted across public health centres in Jamaica: (i) Has the policy improved health status among working age adults? (ii) Has the policy influenced labour market dynamics? (iii) Has the policy had differential effects by age groups? Evidence suggests that the policy improved overall health status, as the likelihood of suffering illnesses associated with inability to carry out normal activities decreased by 28.6 percent. In addition, the number of days where people were unable to perform normal activities due to illnesses suffered within the previous four weeks decreased by 34 percent. Regarding labour market dynamics, no effects are found on the likelihood of being employed or contributing to the National Insurance Scheme. However, consistent with a reduced number of days lost due to illnesses, we find a positive effect of 2.15 additional weekly labour hours. Finally, we find that all of these positive effects are concentrated within adults in the 40-64 year-old age range. Overall, these effects suggest that the policy added a yearly average of US$PPP 26.6 million worth of net real production to the Jamaican economy during the period 2008-12.