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Costs and Benefits of Eliminating the Medicare Waiting Period for SSDI Beneficiaries


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  • Gina Livermore
  • David Stapleton
  • Henry Claypool
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    The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides a safety net for individuals who must stop working because of a disability. Although Medicare coverage is available to people with disabilities, they must wait for that coverage until 24 months after they become eligible for SSDI. This brief discusses the costs and benefits associated with eliminating the Medicare waiting period for new SSDI beneficiaries. The authors estimate that doing so would increase annual Medicare costs by approximately $14 billion, provided that all beneficiaries are enrolled throughout the 24-month period. This represents about three percent of total Medicare expenditures in 2006. Even though costs would be substantial, potential benefits would also accrue: fewer beneficiaries delaying needed health care; reduced financial hardships for those who must pay high out-of-pocket costs for medical care due to lack of insurance; and reduced Medicaid expenditures for states. In addition, better coverage and access to health care during the waiting period might lead to improved health and increased or earlier return to work.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Mathematica Policy Research in its series Mathematica Policy Research Reports with number 6218.

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    Length: 5
    Date of creation: 30 Mar 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mpr:mprres:6218

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    Postal: Mathematica Policy Research P.O. Box 2393 Princeton, NJ 08543-2393 Attn: Communications
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    Related research

    Keywords: Disability; Medicare Waiting Period; SSDI Beneficiaries; Social Security Disability Insurance;

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    1. Aaron Yelowitz, 1996. "Why Did the SSI-Disabled Program Grow So Much? Disentangling the Effect of Medicaid," UCLA Economics Working Papers 748, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Kreider, Brent & Riphahn, Regina, 1997. "Applications to the US Disability Program: A Semiparametric Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 1559, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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