The Economic Burden of Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenditures Before and After the Implementation of Medicare Prescription Drug Program

by Ayse Akincigil, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Medicare’s cost sharing policies (e.g., deductibles, copayments) and uncovered health services result in a significant amount of out-of-pocket medical expenses.  The financial strain from such expenses results in economic insecurity among the elderly.  Our purpose is to describe the economic burden of out-of-pocket medical expenditures experienced by older Americans before and after the implementation of Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Part D).  To do so, we propose to analyze nationally representative data from the Medicare Current Beneficiaries Survey (MCBS).  We will investigate if the Part D implementation was associated with reduced inequalities in medical expenditure burden.  We propose to study data from years 2001 to 2010, which will make it possible to capture both the immediate and long-term impact of the policy change; and will provide ample statistical power to conduct subgroup analyses, in order to understand the trends among those who are most vulnerable to the economic burden.  Debates over the sustainability of Medicare have been a constant feature of American political life.

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