Article | Health Economics | August, 2012

Affording to Wait: Medicare Initiation and the Use of Health Care

by Guy David, Philip Saynisch, Victoria Acevado-Perez and Mark D. Neuman

Abstract

Delays in receipt of necessary diagnostic and therapeutic medical procedures related to the timing of Medicare initiation at age 65 years have potentially broad welfare implications. We use 2005–2007 data from Florida and North Carolina to estimate the effect of initiation of Medicare benefits on healthcare utilization across procedures that differ in urgency and coverage. In particular, we study trends in the use of elective procedures covered by Medicare to treat conditions that vary in symptoms; these are compared with elective surgical procedures not eligible for Medicare reimbursement, and to a set of urgent and emergent procedures. We find large discontinuities in health services utilization at age 65 years concentrated among low-urgency, Medicare-reimbursable procedures, most pronounced among screening interventions and treatments for minimally symptomatic disease.

Keywords: Insurance; Medicare; Behavior; Insurance; Health Care and Treatment; Insurance Industry; Public Administration Industry; Health Industry; North Carolina; Florida;

Citation:

David, Guy, Philip Saynisch, Victoria Acevado-Perez, and Mark D. Neuman. "Affording to Wait: Medicare Initiation and the Use of Health Care." Health Economics 21, no. 8 (August, 2012): 1030–1036.