Health insurance is an essential instrument to ensure equal access to medical resources and promote the health of the general population. Robust evidence regarding whether migrant workers have benefited from available insurance schemes is limited. Drawing on survey data from the Rural Urban Migration in China (RUMiC) Project, this paper examines the effects of health insurance on migrant workers’ utilization of routine medical services, the medical burden, and the utilization of preventive medical services using a two-part model, the Heckman model, the Tobit model, and a probit model. Our findings indicate that, first, participating in medical insurance increases migrant workers’ probability of visiting a doctor. Unlike other medical insurance programs that positively affect migrant workers’ medical expenditure, the new rural cooperative medical system fails to play an effective role. Second, participation in any medical insurance program effectively reduces migrant workers’ medical burden and can improve the probability of preventive medical service utilization. Third, self-reported health and disease severity are pivotal to determining migrant workers’ medical expenditure. Fourth, high-income people have a good health status and a lower probability of becoming ill and can afford relatively higher medical expenses once they become ill. China’s medical insurance appears to mainly serve to reduce the financial burden for serious illnesses, reflecting important policy implications for policy-makers.
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