NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Nicole Maestas

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

Working Papers and Chapters

January 2009Price Variation in Markets with Homogeneous Goods: The Case of Medigap
with Mathis Schroeder, Dana Goldman: w14679
Nearly 30 percent of Americans age 65 and older supplement their Medicare health insurance through the Medigap private insurance market. We show that prices for Medigap policies vary widely, despite the fact that all plans are standardized, and even after controlling for firm heterogeneity. Economic theory suggests that heterogeneous consumer search costs can lead to a non-degenerate price distribution within a market for otherwise homogenous goods. Using a structural model of equilibrium search costs first posed by Carlson and McAfee (1983), we estimate average search costs to be $72. We argue that information problems arise from the complexity of the insurance product and lead individuals to rely on insurance agents who do not necessarily guide them to the lowest prices.
November 2007Does Medicare Save Lives?
with David Card, Carlos Dobkin: w13668
The health insurance characteristics of the population changes sharply at age 65 as most people become eligible for Medicare. But do these changes matter for health? We address this question using data on over 400,000 hospital admissions for people who are admitted through the emergency room for "non-deferrable" conditions -- diagnoses with the same daily admission rates on weekends and weekdays. Among this subset of patients there is no discernible rise in the number of admissions at age 65, suggesting that the severity of illness is similar for patients on either side of the Medicare threshold. The insurance characteristics of the two groups are much different, however, with a large jump at 65 in the fraction who have Medicare as their primary insurer, and a reduction in the fraction...

Published: David Card & Carlos Dobkin & Nicole Maestas, 2009. "Does Medicare Save Lives?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 597-636, May. citation courtesy of

December 2005Medical Expenditure Risk and Household Portfolio Choice
with Dana Goldman: w11818
As health care costs continue to rise, medical expenses have become an increasingly important contributor to financial risk. Economic theory suggests that when background risk rises, individuals will reduce their exposure to other risks. This paper presents a test of this theory by examining the effect of medical expenditure risk on the willingness of elderly Medicare beneficiaries to hold risky assets. We measure exposure to medical expenditure risk by whether an individual is covered by supplemental insurance through Medigap, an employer, or a Medicare HMO. We account for the endogeneity of insurance choice by using county variation in Medigap prices and non-Medicare HMO market penetration. We find that having Medigap or an employer policy increases risky asset holding by 6 percentage po...
March 2004The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization and Health: Evidence from Medicare
with David Card, Carlos Dobkin: w10365
We use the increases in health insurance coverage at age 65 generated by the rules of the Medicare program to evaluate the effects of health insurance coverage on health related behaviors and outcomes. The rise in overall coverage at age 65 is accompanied by a narrowing of disparities across race and education groups. Groups with bigger increases in coverage at 65 experience bigger reductions in the probability of delaying or not receiving medical care, and bigger increases in the probability of routine doctor visits. Hospital discharge records also show large increases in admission rates at age 65, especially for elective procedures like bypass surgery and joint replacement. The rises in hospitalization are bigger for whites than blacks, and for residents of areas with higher rates of ins...

Published: Card, David, Carlos Dobkin and Nicole Maestas."The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care: Evidence from Medicare." American Economic Review 98, 5 (December 2008): 2242–58.

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

 
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