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Shaefer and Edin's book ($2 a Day) cited in piece on political debate over plight of impoverished Americans

Eisenberg tracks factors affecting both mental health and athletic/academic performance among college athletes

Shapiro says Americans' low spending reflects "cruel lesson" about the dangers of debt

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Susan Murphy elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Maggie Levenstein named director of ISR's Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

Arline Geronimus receives 2016 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award

PSC spring 2016 newsletter: Kristin Seefeldt, Brady West, newly funded projects, ISR Runs for Bob, and more

Next Brown Bag

PSC Brown Bags
will resume fall 2016

psc brown bag iconHealth Insurance, Utilization and Mortality: Evidence from Medicare's Origins

Kenneth Chay (Department of Economics and Community Health, Brown University)

11/07/2011, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.

We examine Medicare’s impact on hospital insurance, utilization and mortality rates. The analysis applies an “age discontinuity” design to data both before and after Medicare’s introduction. We find that Medicare: i) increased hospital utilization and costs among the elderly, but at a lower rate than previously found; and ii) significantly increased life expectancy in the eligible population. The mortality reductions exhibit an age discontinuity only after Medicare's introduction – patterns not found in nations that did not introduce a Medicare-style program in the 1960’s – with deaths due to heart disease and stroke accounting for most of these reductions. We estimate that Medicare’s introduction had a cost-per-life year ratio below $200 (in 1982-84 dollars). We also analyze changes over time in Medicare’s impact and the characteristics of the "marginal" person who benefited from coverage. We find that the age-65 discontinuity in insurance rates fell over time, more so for blacks, the less-educated, poor and disabled; and that Medicare’s salience rises in recessions. We present evidence that the benefit-cost ratios of Medicare fell during the 1980s, partly due to changes in Medicare’s reimbursement formula.


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