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Medical Expenditure Risk and Household Portfolio Choice

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  • Dana Goldman
  • Nicole Maestas

Abstract

As health care costs continue to rise, medical expenses have become an increasingly important contributor to financial risk. Economic theory suggests that when background risk rises, individuals will reduce their exposure to other risks. This paper presents a test of this theory by examining the effect of medical expenditure risk on the willingness of elderly Medicare beneficiaries to hold risky assets. We measure exposure to medical expenditure risk by whether an individual is covered by supplemental insurance through Medigap, an employer, or a Medicare HMO. We account for the endogeneity of insurance choice by using county variation in Medigap prices and non-Medicare HMO market penetration. We find that having Medigap or an employer policy increases risky asset holding by 6 percentage points relative to those enrolled in only Medicare Parts A and B. HMO participation increases risky asset holding by 12 percentage points. Given that just 50 percent of our sample holds risky assets, these are economically sizable effects. It also suggests an important link between the availability and pricing of health insurance and the financial behavior of the elderly.

Suggested Citation

  • Dana Goldman & Nicole Maestas, 2005. "Medical Expenditure Risk and Household Portfolio Choice," NBER Working Papers 11818, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11818
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Angrisani & Vincenzo Atella & Marianna Brunetti, 2016. "Public Health Insurance and Household Portfolio Choices: Unraveling Financial “Side Effects” of Medicare," CEIS Research Paper 382, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 07 Feb 2017.
    2. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2010. "Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 18-38, January.
    3. Brunetti, M. & Ciciretti, R. & Djordjevic, Lj., 2016. "The determinants of household’s bank switching," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 175-189.
    4. Kronenberg, C. & van Kippersluis, H. & Rohde, K.I.M., 2014. "What drives the association between health and portfolio choice?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 14/27, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    5. Eun Kim & Sherman Hanna & Swarn Chatterjee & Suzanne Lindamood, 2012. "Who Among the Elderly Owns Stocks? The Role of Cognitive Ability and Bequest Motive," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 338-352, September.
    6. repec:wly:hlthec:v:26:y:2017:i:11:p:1447-1458 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:kap:rqfnac:v:49:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11156-016-0589-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Gormley, Todd & Liu, Hong & Zhou, Guofu, 2010. "Limited participation and consumption-saving puzzles: A simple explanation and the role of insurance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 331-344, May.
    9. Christelis, Dimitris & Georgarakos, Dimitris & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2014. "The impact of health insurance on stockholding: A regression discontinuity approach," CFS Working Paper Series 488, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    10. Nicole Maestas & Mathis Schroeder & Dana P. Goldman, 2007. "Price Variation in Markets with Homogeneous Goods The Case of Medigap," Working Papers WR-504, RAND Corporation.
    11. Hugonnier, J. & Pelgrin, F. & St-Amour, P., 2016. "Closing Down the Shop: Optimal Health and Wealth Dynamics near the End of Life," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 16/28, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

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    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General

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