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Does Widowhood Explain Gender Differences in Out-of-Pocket Medical Spending Among the Elderly?

  • Gopi Shah Goda
  • John B. Shoven
  • Sita Nataraj Slavov

Despite the presence of Medicare, out-of-pocket medical spending is a large expenditure risk facing the elderly. While women live longer than men, elderly women incur higher out-of-pocket medical spending than men at each age. In this paper, we examine whether differences in marital status and living arrangements can explain this difference. We find that out-of-pocket medical spending is approximately 29 percent higher when an individual becomes widowed, a large portion of which is spending on nursing homes. Our results suggest a substantial role of living arrangements in out-of-pocket medical spending; however, our estimates combined with differences in rates of widowhood across gender suggest that marital status can explain only one third of the gender difference in total out-of-pocket medical spending, leaving a large portion unexplained. On the other hand, gender differences in widowhood more than explain the observed gender difference in out-of-pocket spending on nursing homes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17440.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Publication status: published as Goda, Gopi Shah & Shoven, John B. & Slavov, Sita Nataraj, 2013. "Does widowhood explain gender differences in out-of-pocket medical spending among the elderly?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 647-658.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17440
Note: AG HC PE
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