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Estimating willingness to pay for medicare using a dynamic life-cycle model of demand for health insurance

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  • Khwaja, Ahmed

Abstract

Medicare is the largest health insurance program in the US. This paper uses a dynamic random utility model of demand for health insurance in a life-cycle human capital framework with endogenous production of health to calculate the individual willingness to pay (WTP) for Medicare. The model accounts for the feature that the demand for health insurance is derived through the demand for health, which is jointly determined with the production of health over the life-cycle. The WTP measure incorporates the effects of Medicare insurance on aggregate consumption through effects on medical expenditures and mortality, and consumption utility of health. The model is estimated using panel data from the Health and Retirement Study. The average WTP or change in lifetime expected utility resulting from delaying the age of eligibility to 67 is found to be $ 24,947 in 1991 dollars ($ 39,435 in 2008 dollars). However, there is considerable variation in the WTP, e.g., in 1991 dollars the WTP of individuals who have less than a high school education and are white is $ 28,347 ($ 44,810 in 2008 dollars), while the WTP of those with at least a college degree and who are neither white nor black is $ 15,584 ($ 24,635 in 2008 dollars). More generally, the less educated have a higher WTP to avoid a policy change that delays availability of Medicare benefits. Additional model simulations imply that the primary benefits of Medicare are insurance against medical expenditures with relatively smaller benefits in terms of improved health status and longevity. Medicare also leads to large increases in medical utilization due to deferring of medical care prior to eligibility.

Suggested Citation

  • Khwaja, Ahmed, 2010. "Estimating willingness to pay for medicare using a dynamic life-cycle model of demand for health insurance," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 130-147, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:156:y:2010:i:1:p:130-147
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