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Health Econ. 2012 Oct;21(10):1155-68. doi: 10.1002/hec.1780. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

Health service use among the previously uninsured: is subsidized health insurance enough?

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  • 1National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD 20782, USA. SDecker@CDC.GOV

Abstract

Although it has been shown that gaining Medicare coverage at age 65 years increases health service use among the uninsured, difficulty in changing habits or differences in the characteristics of previously uninsured compared with insured individuals may mean that the previously uninsured continue to use the healthcare system differently from others. This study uses Medicare claims data linked to two different surveys--the National Health Interview Survey and the Health and Retirement Study--to describe the relationship between insurance status before age 65 years and the use of Medicare-covered services beginning at age 65 years. Although we do not find statistically significant differences in Medicare expenditures or in the number of hospitalizations by previous insurance status, we do find that individuals who were uninsured before age 65 years continue to use the healthcare system differently from those who were privately insured. Specifically, they have 16% fewer visits to office-based physicians but make 18% and 43% more visits to hospital emergency and outpatient departments, respectively. A key question for the future may be why the previously uninsured seem to continue to use the healthcare system differently from the previously insured. This question may be important to consider as health coverage expansions are implemented.

Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID:
22945812
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3886823
Free PMC Article
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