Background: Since 1993, Colombia has had a mandatory social health insurance scheme that aims to provide universal health coverage to all citizens. However, some contributory regime participants purchase voluntary private health insurance (VPHI) to access better quality health services (i. e., physicians and hospitals), shorter waiting times, and a more extensive providers’ network. This article aims to estimate the price elasticity of demand for the VPHI market in Colombia.

Methods: We use data from the 2016–2017 consumer expenditure national survey and apply a Heckman selection model to address the selection problem into purchasing private insurance. Using the estimation results to further estimate the price semi-elasticity for VPHI, we then calculate the price elasticity for the households’ health expenditure and acquisition of VHPI.

Results: Our main fndings indicate that a 1% VPHI price increase reduces the proportion of households afliated to a VPHI in the country by about 2.32% to 4.66%, with robust results across sample restrictions. There are relevant diferences across age groups, with younger households’ heads being less responsive to VPHI price changes.

Conclusions: We conclude that the VPHI demand in Colombia is noticeably elastic, and therefore tax policy changes can have a signifcant impact on public health insurance expenditures. The government should estimate the optimal VPHI purchase in order to reduce any welfare loss that the current arrangement might be generating.


  • Juan Gallego
  • María Casabianca
  • Pamela Góngora
  • Paul Rodríguez

Palabras clave:

  • Demand for health insurance
  • Price elasticity
  • Private health insurance
  • Voluntary private health insurance


  • Proyecto 2
  • Publicación