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Health state valuation and its socio-economic factors: online samples from the U.S. and Canada
1  Economics Ph.D. Candidate, Concordia University


This paper seeks to explore how people value the state of health and what socio-economic factors they might consider. I conducted an online experiment and a survey to elicit individuals’ decisions under hypothetical health states, which vary at three levels: mild, moderate, and severe. The socio-economic factors mainly include payment, personal financial situation, hospital service, support from the family, etc. The subjects were from two separate online pools of the United States and Canada, which have similar socio-economic backgrounds and different health care systems. The main task for the subjects (standard gamble) is a valuation task for a given health state, in which the subjects were required to make decisions on whether to take a risky medical treatment when facing various success probabilities. The cut off success probability is the lowest probability that they are willing to take the risky medical treatment. After this procedure, the subjects filled a survey about what factors they might have considered when making the previous decisions.

This paper presents the following main results: (1) Subjects are sensitive to different levels of health states. When the health state worsens, the participants are willing to accept a risky medical treatment with a lower probability of success. This finding holds for both samples. (2) Between the two countries’ participants, more Canadians choose not to take the risky treatment; furthermore, in those who choose the risky medical treatment under the same health states, the Canadian participants are willing to accept a lower success probability. (3) Among the socio-economic factors that are significant to this health-related decision, several factors are both considered by the participants in two countries: “employer-purchased insurance plans”, “personal financial situations”, “waiting times for treatment”, “hospital services”, and “support from family or friends”. (4) Some factors are only significant in one country’s participants. For the American sample, it is “access to health insurance”, while for the Canadian sample, it is “disturbances in everyday family life”.

Keywords: Health state valuation; Socio-economic factors; Online survey