The Economic Consequences of Hospital Admissions

Carlos Dobkin, Amy Finkelstein, Raymond Kluender, Matthew J. Notowidigdo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


We use an event study approach to examine the economic consequences of hospital admissions for adults in two datasets: survey data from the Health and Retirement Study, and hospitalization data linked to credit reports. For non-elderly adults with health insurance, hospital admissions increase out-of-pocket medical spending, unpaid medical bills, and bankruptcy, and reduce earnings, income, access to credit, and consumer borrowing. The earnings decline is substantial compared to the out-of-pocket spending increase, and is minimally insured prior to age-eligibility for Social Security Retirement Income. Relative to the insured non-elderly, the uninsured non-elderly experience much larger increases in unpaid medical bills and bankruptcy rates following a hospital admission. Hospital admissions trigger fewer than 5 percent of all bankruptcies in our sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-352
Number of pages45
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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