As policymakers consider expanding insurance coverage for HIV individuals, it is useful to ask if insurance has any affect on health outcomes; and, if so, whether public insurance is as efficacious as private insurance in preventing premature deaths among HIV patients. Using data from a nationally representative cohort of HIV-infected persons receiving regular medical care, we estimate the impact of different types of insurance on mortality in this population. We find that ignoring observed and unobserved health status leads one to conclude (misleadingly) that insurance may not be protective for HIV patients. After accounting for observed and unobserved heterogeneity, insurance does protect against premature death, but private insurance is more effective than public coverage. The better outcomes associated with private insurance are attributable to the more restrictive prescription drug policies of Medicaid
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