The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization: Evidence from Medicare

Am Econ Rev. 2008 Dec;98(5):2242-2258. doi: 10.1257/aer.98.5.2242.


The onset of Medicare eligibility at age 65 leads to sharp changes in the health insurance coverage of the U.S. population. These changes lead to increases in the use of medical services, with a pattern of gains across socioeconomic groups that varies by type of service. While routine doctor visits increase more for groups that previously lacked insurance, hospital admissions for relatively expensive procedures like bypass surgery and joint replacement increase more for previously insured groups that are more likely to have supplementary coverage after 65, reflecting the relative generosity of their combined insurance package under Medicare.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Managed Care Programs
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Universal Health Insurance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Whites