Economics ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2020


This dissertation has three research papers. First paper looks at the effect of social networks on emotional well-being of cancer patients by studying the response of social networks on their depression symptoms. Using the data from a primary survey conducted in Nepal, the study finds that social networks significantly reduce depression symptoms among cancer patients. The results strongly advocate for the importance of the social networks in improving their emotional well-being. Second paper examines the health coverage disparities among Hispanic and non-Hispanic young adults in five southwestern states of the United States. Using the pooled data from American Community Survey 2015-2017, the study finds that despite ACA, ethnic-racial group, gender, education, income, employment status, age, school going status are still the key determinants of health coverage among young adults. States that expanded Medicaid showed a significant improvement in the health coverage of young adults. Findings also indicate that the disparities in health coverage among Hispanic and non-Hispanic young adults are largely attributed to the citizenship status and living in a household where language other than English is spoken. Third paper studies the association between increased market concentration and plan premiums for individuals and families from 2015-2020 in insurance marketplaces, as well as the impact of Medicaid expansion on the plan premiums. Results show a significant positive effect of high market concentration on plan premiums for all individuals and families regardless of Medicaid expansion status. This study emphasizes the importance of insurer competition in health insurance markets and can be useful in state and federal governments’ decisions regarding insurance market regulation.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Economics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Prof. Alok Bohara

Second Committee Member

Prof. Richard Santos

Third Committee Member

Dr. Sarah Stith

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Smita Pakhale




social networks, emotional well-being, depression, health insurance disparities, health insurance markets, marketplace, exchange, market concentration

Document Type