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Suicide and organ donors: Spillover effects of mental health insurance mandates

Health Economics. February 13, 2014

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This paper considers the effect of mental health insurance mandates on the supply of cadaveric donors. We find that enacting a mental health mandate decreases the count of organ donors from suicides and results are driven by female donors. Using a number of empirical specifications, we calculate that the mental health parity laws are responsible for an approximately 0.52% decrease in cadaveric donors. Additional regression results show that the mandates are not related to other types of organ donations, ruling out the possibility that the mandates are related to an overall trend in the supply of organ donations. The findings suggest that future policies aimed at reducing suicide in a large and significant way can potentially increase the inefficiency that currently exists in the organ donor market.