Changes in Health for the Uninsured After Reaching Age-eligibility for Medicare

By | January 30, 2007

Uninsured adults in late middle age are more likely to have a health decline than individuals with private insurance. The authors extend their previous investigations in this study by determining how health–and the risk of a future health decline–changes after the uninsured gain Medicare. The uninsured transitioning to Medicare reported a 50% greater risk of having a major decline in health, and also an increased risk for developing functional limitations, when compared to their previously privately insured counterparts. Gaining Medicare did not lead to immediate health benefits for individuals who were uninsured before age 65. However, after two or more years of continuous Medicare coverage, the uninsured no longer had a higher risk of adverse health outcomes. These findings suggest that policy initiatives to expand Medicaid and Medicare coverage by various means would help prevent or attenuate health declines for individuals who otherwise would have been uninsured, thereby reducing health care costs for newly enrolled aged beneficiaries during their first years of Medicare coverage. Center member Joseph Sudano, PhD co-authored this paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. (posted 1/2007) Journal of General Internal Medicine

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