Does Medicare Coverage Improve Cancer Detection and Mortality Outcomes?

73 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2019

See all articles by Rebecca Mary Myerson

Rebecca Mary Myerson

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Population Health Sciences

Reginald Tucker-Seeley

University of Southern California

Dana Goldman

University of Southern California - Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics

Darius N. Lakdawalla

University of Southern California - Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics

Date Written: September 2019

Abstract

Medicare is a large government health insurance program in the United States which covers about 60 million people. This paper analyzes the effects of Medicare insurance on health for a group of people in urgent need of medical care: people with cancer. We used a regression discontinuity design to assess impacts of near-universal Medicare insurance at age 65 on cancer detection and outcomes, using population-based cancer registries and vital statistics data. Our analysis focused on the three tumor sites for which screening is recommended both before and after age 65: breast, colorectal, and lung cancer. At age 65, cancer detection increased by 72 per 100,000 population among women and 33 per 100,000 population among men; cancer mortality also decreased by 9 per 100,000 population for women but did not significantly change for men. In a placebo check, we found no comparable changes at age 65 in Canada. This study provides the first evidence to our knowledge that near-universal access to Medicare at age 65 is associated with improvements in population-level cancer mortality and provides new evidence on the differences in the impact of health insurance by gender.

Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.

Suggested Citation

Myerson, Rebecca Mary and Tucker-Seeley, Reginald and Goldman, Dana and Lakdawalla, Darius N., Does Medicare Coverage Improve Cancer Detection and Mortality Outcomes? (September 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26292. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3461477

Rebecca Mary Myerson (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Population Health Sciences ( email )

610 Walnut St
Madison, WI 53726
United States

Reginald Tucker-Seeley

University of Southern California

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Dana Goldman

University of Southern California - Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3333
United States

Darius N. Lakdawalla

University of Southern California - Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3333
United States

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