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The Effects of Medicare on Health Care Utilization and Outcomes

In: Frontiers in Health Policy Research, Volume 5

Author

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  • Frank R. Lichtenberg

Abstract

Medicare, which provides health insurance to Americans over the age of 65 and to Americans living with disabilities, is one of the governments largest social programs. It accounts for 12 percent of federal on- and off-budget outlays, and in fiscal year 1999,$212 billion in Medicare benefits were paid. The largest shares of spending are for inpatient hospital services (48 percent) and physician services (27 percent). In thirty years, the number of Americans covered by Medicare will nearly double to 77 million, or 22 percent of the U.S. population.Perhaps the most important question we can ask about the Medicare program is, What impact does it have on the health of the U.S. population? One feature of the Medicare program can be exploited to shed light on its impacts: its age specificity. Most people become eligible for Medicare suddenly, the day they turn 65. Consequently, the age profiles of health services utilization and health outcomes (morbidity and mortality) can provide revealing evidence about Medicares impacts.My objective is to obtain precise estimates of medical utilization and outcomes, by single year of age, for ages close to age 65. The most precise estimates can be obtained by using information obtained from medical providers (hospitals and doctors) pooled over several years.Utilization of ambulatory care and, to a much smaller extent, inpatient care increases suddenly and significantly at age 65, presumably due to Medicare eligibility. The evidence points to a structural change in the frequency of physician visits precisely at age 65. Attainment of age 65 marks not only an upward shift but also the beginning of a rapid upward trend (up until age 75) of about 2.8 percent per year in annual visits per capita. The number of physician visits in which at least one drug is prescribed also jumps up at age 65. Reaching age 65 has a strong positive impact on the consumption of hospital services, but most of this impact appears to be the result of postponement o
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Suggested Citation

  • Frank R. Lichtenberg, 2002. "The Effects of Medicare on Health Care Utilization and Outcomes," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in Health Policy Research, Volume 5, pages 27-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:9857
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    Cited by:

    1. Barbaresco, Silvia & Courtemanche, Charles J. & Qi, Yanling, 2015. "Impacts of the Affordable Care Act dependent coverage provision on health-related outcomes of young adults," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 54-68.
    2. Courtemanche, Charles & Friedson, Andrew I. & Koller, Andrew P. & Rees, Daniel I., 2017. "The Affordable Care Act and Ambulance Response Times," IZA Discussion Papers 10951, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Frank Lichtenberg, 2000. "Sources of U.S. Longevity Increase, 1960 -1997," CESifo Working Paper Series 405, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Finkelstein, Amy & McKnight, Robin, 2008. "What did Medicare do? The initial impact of Medicare on mortality and out of pocket medical spending," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1644-1668, July.
    5. Ellis, Randall P. & Jiang, Shenyi & Manning, Willard G., 2015. "Optimal health insurance for multiple goods and time periods," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 89-106.
    6. 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.
    7. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Linn, 2004. "Market Size in Innovation: Theory and Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 1049-1090.
    8. Qin, Xuezheng & Pan, Jay & Liu, Gordon G., 2014. "Does participating in health insurance benefit the migrant workers in China? An empirical investigation," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 263-278.
    9. Witman, Allison, 2015. "Public health insurance and disparate eligibility of spouses: The Medicare eligibility gap," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 10-25.
    10. David Card & Carlos Dobkin & Nicole Maestas, 2009. "Does Medicare Save Lives?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 597-636.
    11. Munkin, Murat K. & Trivedi, Pravin K., 2008. "Bayesian analysis of the ordered probit model with endogenous selection," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 143(2), pages 334-348, April.
    12. repec:eee:jhecon:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:17-37 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Pelgrin, Florian & St-Amour, Pascal, 2016. "Life cycle responses to health insurance status," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 76-96.
    14. Mary Eschelbach Hansen & Paul Jacobs, 2007. "Valuing Substitute Families:Financial Support for Foster and Adoptive Families," Working Papers 2007-04, American University, Department of Economics.
    15. David Card & Carlos Dobkin & Nicole Maestas, 2004. "The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization and Health: Evidence from Medicare," NBER Working Papers 10365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. repec:tpr:restat:v:99:y:2017:i:5:p:926-943 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Erin Strumpf, 2010. "Employer-sponsored health insurance for early retirees: impacts on retirement, health, and health care," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 105-147, June.
    18. Amy Finkelstein & Robin McKnight, 2005. "What Did Medicare Do (And Was It Worth It)?," NBER Working Papers 11609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Lichtenberg, Frank R., 2004. "Sources of U.S. longevity increase, 1960-2001," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 369-389, July.
    20. Andrea Park Chung & Martin Gaynor & Seth Richards-Shubik, 2017. "Subsidies and Structure: The Lasting Impact of the Hill-Burton Program on the Hospital Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(5), pages 926-943, December.
    21. Lara Bryant & Sharmila Vishwasrao, 2006. "Physician Quality and Health Care for the Poor and Uninsured," Working Papers 06001, Department of Economics, College of Business, Florida Atlantic University.
    22. Boyle, Melissa A. & Lahey, Joanna N., 2010. "Health insurance and the labor supply decisions of older workers: Evidence from a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expansion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(7-8), pages 467-478, August.

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