Costs and Benefits of Elderly Prescription Drug Coverage: Evidence from Veterans’ Health Care
This study tests the impact of a public prescription benefit on Medicare-eligible veterans, utilizing a mid-1990s benefit change in the VA health care system. Using data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, I compare prescription spending and utilization, as well as use of other health services and health outcomes for veterans and non-veterans before and after the VA insurance change. Results show that receipt of a publicly-provided prescription benefit leads to an increase in spending on prescriptions, and simultaneously, a decrease in spending on other medical services. On average, every $1 increase in drug spending is associated with a $6.50 decrease in other medical spending, and this change is accompanied by measured improvements in the health of benefit recipients. The benefit appears to accrue mainly to low-income and disabled individuals who typically have higher-than-average medical expenses, and are also more likely to experience substantial welfare gains from the relative income increase associated with the reduction (to zero) in the price of prescription drugs.
|Date of creation:||Apr 2008|
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