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Medicare and Financial Health across the United States
Consumer financial strain varies enormously across the United States. One pernicious source of financial strain is debt in collections—debt that is more than 120 days past due and that has been sold to a collections agency. In Massachusetts, the average person has less than $100 in collections debt, while in Texas, the average person has more than $300. In this post, we discuss our recent staff report that exploits the fact that virtually all Americans are universally covered by Medicare at 65 to show that health insurance not only improves financial health on average, but also is a major ...
Medicare and the Geography of Financial Health
We use a five percent sample of Americans’ credit bureau data to study the effects of public health insurance on the geography of consumer financial health. Exploiting the nearly universal eligibility for Medicare at age 65, we find a 30 percent reduction in the level of debts in collections with limited effects on other financial outcomes. Medicare reduces the geographic variation in collections by two-thirds at age 65 and halves the geographic correlation between collections and demographics like race and education. Areas that experienced the largest gains in financial health at age 65 ...