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Does widowhood explain gender differences in out-of-pocket medical spending among the elderly?

  • Goda, Gopi Shah
  • Shoven, John B.
  • Slavov, Sita Nataraj

Despite the presence of Medicare, out-of-pocket medical spending is a large expenditure risk facing the elderly. While women live longer than men, elderly women incur higher out-of-pocket medical spending than men at each age. In this paper, we examine whether differences in marital status and living arrangements can explain this difference. We find that out-of-pocket medical spending is approximately 24 percent higher when an individual becomes widowed, a large portion of which is spending on nursing homes. Our results suggest a substantial role of living arrangements in out-of-pocket medical spending. Our estimates combined with differences in rates of widowhood across gender suggest that marital status can explain about one third of the gender difference in total out-of-pocket medical spending, leaving a large portion unexplained. On the other hand, gender differences in widowhood more than explain the observed gender difference in out-of-pocket spending on nursing homes.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 647-658

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:32:y:2013:i:3:p:647-658
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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