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Work Incentives of Medicaid Beneficiaries and The Role of Asset Testing

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  • Pashchenko, Svetlana
  • Porapakkarm, Ponpoje

Abstract

Should asset testing be used in means-tested programs? These programs target low-income people, but low income can result not only from low productivity but also from low labor supply. We aim to show that in the asymmetric information environment, there is a positive role for asset testing. We focus on Medicaid, one of the largest means-tested programs in the US, and we ask two questions: 1) Does Medicaid distort work incentives? 2) Can asset testing improve the insurance-incentives trade-off of Medicaid? Our tool is a general equilibrium model with heterogeneous agents that matches many important features of the data. We find that 23% of Medicaid enrollees do not work in order to be eligible. These distortions are costly: if individuals' productivity was observable and could be used to determine Medicaid eligibility, this results in substantial ex-ante welfare gains. When productivity is unobservable, asset testing is effective in eliminating labor supply distortions, but to minimize saving distortions, asset limits should be different for workers and non-workers. This work-dependent asset testing can produce welfare gains close to the case of observable productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Pashchenko, Svetlana & Porapakkarm, Ponpoje, 2016. "Work Incentives of Medicaid Beneficiaries and The Role of Asset Testing," MPRA Paper 72413, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:72413
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mazumder, Bhashkar & Miller, Sarah, 2014. "The Effects of the Massachusetts Health Reform on Financial Distress," Working Paper Series WP-2014-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    2. Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2017. "Health, Health Insurance, and Retirement: A Survey," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 9(1), pages 383-409, September.
    3. Svetlana Pashchenko & Ponpoje (Poe) Porapakkarm & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2017. "The Lifetime Costs of Bad Health," 2017 Meeting Papers 533, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Zhao, Kai, 2017. "Social insurance, private health insurance and individual welfare," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 102-117.
    5. Wellschmied, Felix, 2015. "The Welfare Effects of Asset Means-Testing Income Support," IZA Discussion Papers 8838, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Capatina, Elena, 2015. "Life-cycle effects of health risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 67-88.
    7. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_457 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    health insurance; Medicaid; labor supply; asset testing; general equilibrium; life-cycle models;

    JEL classification:

    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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