The Korean Journal of Economic Studies
The Difference in Health Care Utilization between Self-Employed and Wage-and-Salary Workers: Focusing on the Opportunity Cost of Time
Suzie Ahn (Seoul National University)Year 2020Vol. 68No. 4
This study shows that the difference in opportunity costs between self-employed and permanent wage-and-salary workers is one of the main factors contributing to socioeconomic inequalities in health care utilization. The positive income effect on health care utilization is shown to be significantly smaller for self-employed than for wage-and-salary workers. Since working hours are directly related to the income for self-employed workers, it is more costly for them to use health care services at the expense of working hours than for wage-and-salary workers. For similar reasons, even among wage-and-salary workers, those who lack access to paid leave tend to reduce their health care utilization as self-employed workers do. Furthermore, I investigate the changes in patterns of health care utilization for self-employed workers whose spouses are also self-employed so that the loss of working hours can be somewhat mitigated, and find that there are no significant differences in the use of health care services between those and wage-and-salary workers.