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The distribution of lifetime Medicare benefits, taxes and premiums: Evidence from individual level data

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  • Rettenmaier, Andrew J.

Abstract

The absence of individual level data linking earnings histories to the receipt of Medicare benefits has hampered the study of the program's distributional properties. Data developed by the Social Security Administration for an early cohort of Medicare beneficiaries includes both earnings records and Medicare payment records and thus overcomes this limitation. For this early cohort, lifetime benefits and taxes are found to rise with lifetime earnings, but taxes rise more rapidly resulting in redistribution from higher to lower earning beneficiaries. Lifetime benefits in the top decile of the earnings distribution are 19% higher than in the bottom decile, but taxes and premiums are four times higher in the top than in the bottom decile. Once taxes and premiums are subtracted, net benefits in the top decile are 79% of net benefits in the bottom decile

Suggested Citation

  • Rettenmaier, Andrew J., 2012. "The distribution of lifetime Medicare benefits, taxes and premiums: Evidence from individual level data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 760-772.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:9:p:760-772
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2012.06.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "Redistribution in the Current U.S. Social Security System," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 11-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. McClellan, Mark & Skinner, Jonathan, 2006. "The incidence of Medicare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 257-276, January.
    3. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1308-1320, September.
    4. Bhattacharya, Jay & Lakdawalla, Darius, 2006. "Does Medicare benefit the poor?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 277-292, January.
    5. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sam Peltzman, 2014. "Socialized medicine and mortality," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 179-205, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Medicare; Redistribution;

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