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The Interaction of Public and Private Insurance: Medicaid and the Long-Term Care Insurance Market

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  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Amy Finkelstein

Abstract

We show that the provision of even incomplete public insurance can substantially crowd out private insurance demand. We examine the interaction of the public Medicaid program with the private market for long-term care insurance and estimate that Medicaid can explain the lack of private insurance purchases for at least two-thirds and as much as 90 percent of the wealth distribution, even if comprehensive, actuarially fair private policies were available. Medicaid's large crowd out effect stems from the very large implicit tax (on the order of 60 to 75 percent for a median wealth individual) that Medicaid imposes on the benefits paid from private insurance policies. Importantly, Medicaid itself provides an inadequate mechanism for smoothing consumption for most individuals, so that its crowd out effect has important implications for overall risk exposure. An implication of our findings is that public policies designed to stimulate private insurance demand will be of limited efficacy as long as Medicaid continues to impose this large implicit tax.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey R. Brown & Amy Finkelstein, 2004. "The Interaction of Public and Private Insurance: Medicaid and the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," NBER Working Papers 10989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10989
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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