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Medicare and Disparities in Women's Health

  • Sandra Decker
  • Carol Rapaport
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    We investigate the effect of universal health insurance on health outcome and the use of health services by exploiting a natural experiment that changes the insurance status of most Americans at age 65; that is, eligibility for the U.S. Medicare program. We compare inequalities in health and health care use just before and after the age of universal Medicare coverage (65) in the United States. We focus in this paper on the use of services related to breast cancer. We test whether Medicare improves the use of early detection services and ultimately stage of diagnosis of breast cancer particularly for groups shown to be more likely to be uninsured prior to age 65, such as black women or women with less than a high school education. Our results show that education differences in mammography and breast exam receipt and ultimately in stage of diagnosis of breast cancer lessen after the age of 65 for white women. We also find that turning 65 significantly increases the chance that a black woman, especially a less educated black woman, has had a mammogram. We do not find comparable evidence that stage of diagnosis is improved for black women after the age of 65.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8761.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8761.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8761
    Note: HC
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Hurd, Michael D. & McGarry, Kathleen, 1997. "Medical insurance and the use of health care services by the elderly," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 129-154, April.
    2. Arline Geronimus & John Bound, 1990. "Black/white differences in women’s reproductive-related health status: evidence from vital statistics," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 457-466, August.
    3. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, May.
    4. Deaton, A., 1998. "Aging and Inequality in Income and Health," Papers 181, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
    5. Sandra L. Decker & Carol Rapaport, 2002. "Medicare And Inequalities In Health Outcomes: The Case Of Breast Cancer," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(1), pages 1-11, 01.
    6. van Doorslaer, Eddy & Wagstaff, Adam & van der Burg, Hattem & Christiansen, Terkel & De Graeve, Diana & Duchesne, Inge & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Gerfin, Michael & Geurts, Jose & Gross, Lorna, 2000. "Equity in the delivery of health care in Europe and the US," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 553-583, September.
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