Medicare Coverage and Disparities in Cancer Survival

Rebecca Myerson , University of Southern California
Darius N. Lakdawalla, RAND Corporation
Dana Goldman, University of Southern California

Despite large public investments in providing Medicare insurance for adults over age 65, there is little evidence it improves health. We study a group of vulnerable older adults for whom access to health insurance could have plausible, immediate impacts on health – people with cancer. We used a regression discontinuity design to assess impacts of near-universal Medicare insurance at age 65 using population-based cancer registries and vital statistics data. At age 65, cancer detection increased by 50 per 100,000 population (8%) and cancer mortality decreased by 4.13 per 100,000 population (2%), while one-year survival after detection increased by 1%. Importantly, the effects of near-universal coverage via Medicare on cancer mortality were similar among Black patients and non-Black patients. Accordingly, while Medicare coverage improved cancer mortality among all groups, disparities by race remained.

See paper

 Presented in Session 81. Aging in the United States: Minorities and Other Vulnerable Populations