The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization

Evidence from Medicare

Published In: American Economic Review, v. 98, no. 5, Dec. 2008, p. 2242-2258

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007

by David Card, Carlos Dobkin, Nicole Maestas

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The onset of Medicare eligibility at age 65 leads to sharp changes in the health insurance coverage of the US population. These changes lead to increases in the use of medical services, with a pattern of gains across socioeconomic groups that varies by type of service. While routine doctor visits increase more for groups that previously lacked insurance, hospital admissions for relatively expensive procedures like bypass surgery and joint replacement increase more for previously insured groups that are more likely to have supplementary coverage after 65, reflecting the relative generosity of their combined insurance package under Medicare.

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