Does facilitated access to health system improves physical and psychological health outcomes? Evidence from quasi-experiment (joint work with Philipp Jaschke)

As long as their asylum application is not recognized or their duration of stay does not exceed 15 months, asylum-seekers who require doctor visit have to claim it either by the local authority for foreigners or the responsible social assistance office in Germany. Since 2016 several Federal states and municipalities in Germany have launched the procedure to hand out electronic health cards (eHC) which allow immediate direct access to the health system for asylum-seekers. In this paper, we examine whether being eligible to the eHC as a result of the policy change has had an effect on the health outcomes of asylum-seekers in Germany. For empirical identification, we take advantage of the variation of the policy change across regions and over time. Relying on data from the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of refugees, we find that the introduction of the reforms allowing asylum-seekers’ faster and more direct access to the healthcare system indeed reduced the risk of emotional disorder. We conclude by discussing the potential pros and contras of a comprehensive nationwide introduction of the eHC for asylum-seekers.

– Discussion paper –