Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Damien Sheehan-Connor

Major

Economics (ECON)

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

A significant volume of health economics literature has attempted to understand the elusive relationship between medical care and health outcomes. This paper attempts to provide further quantitative evidence for that relationship by exploiting the discontinuity in health insurance coverage at the age of 65. Using hospital discharge data for California from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), I compare differences in mortality, cost of care, number of procedures, length of stay, and individual procedure utilization across the age of 65. Across two samples of serious diagnoses, my results suggest a positive relationship between mortality and the intensity of medical care, both for increases and decreases in the quantity of care provided. These results suggest for certain groups, the transition to Medicare eligibility does not provide value, although this result is dependent on the sample of diagnoses and particular subgroup of patients observed.

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