AFFORDING TO WAIT: MEDICARE INITIATION AND THE USE OF HEALTH CARE

Wiley:  7/31/12

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.  Read more