Health Effect of Medicare Coverage for the Disabled

Na Yin, Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Medicare covers both the elderly and the disabled. Younger Medicare beneficiaries with work disabilities have received far less research attention and policy consideration compared to the elderly beneficiaries, although they are more likely to be in poor health and lack access to affordable supplemental health insurance coverage. They gain access to Medicare after being accepted to the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program. The two-year Medicare waiting period for DI beneficiaries has been criticized for leading to deteriorating health and possibly higher health cost in the long run. I examine whether immediate health insurance coverage to DI beneficiaries help improve their health outcomes by comparing health changes of DI beneficiaries with that of the Supplemental Security Income program beneficiaries. The fact that these two programs evaluate eligibility by the same disability definition allows me to test whether earlier access to health care leads to better health outcomes for the disabled.

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Presented in Session 138: Health Insurance, Health Care, and Health