Title

Medicare eligibility age, health disparities, and Medicare reform

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-1-2014

Journal

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved

Volume

25

Issue

3

DOI

10.1353/hpu.2014.0119

Keywords

Chronic disease; Disparity; Eligibility age; Medicare

Abstract

Medicare eligibility age is a major focus of health policy discussions about how to tackle increasing health care costs and reduce the national debt. Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 would presumably reduce the cost of Medicare, but the opponents caution it could exacerbate health disparities by race and/or income. We compared the mortality rate, hospitalization rate, and annual Medicare expenditures of current White and Black Medicare beneficiaries at age 65-66 years using the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. We found Blacks have higher health care demand reimbursed by Medicare than Whites at these ages. To raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 would likely have more negative health and economic effects among Blacks than among Whites, and would likely exacerbate health disparities by race. We suggest great caution when considering this policy option. © Meharry Medical College.

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