Social Interaction and the Health Insurance Choices of the Elderly
Using data from the 1998 wave of the Health and Retirement Study, we examine the effect of social interactions on the health insurance choices of the elderly. We find that having more social interactions, as measured by contacts with friends and neighbors, reduces the likelihood of enrolling in a Medicare managed care plan relative to purchasing a medigap policy or having coverage through Medicare alone. Our estimates indicate that social networks are an important determinant of the health insurance choices of the elderly and provide suggestive evidence that "word-of-mouth" information sharing may have played a role in the preference of some seniors for traditional indemnity insurance over managed care.
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