Is Medicaid for Seniors Regressive?

The old age provisions of the Medicaid program were designed to insure poor retirees against medical expenses. However, it is the rich who are most likely to live long and face expensive medical conditions when very old…We find that retirees with high lifetime incomes can end up on Medicaid, and often value Medicaid’s insurance features the most, as they face a larger risk of catastrophic medical needs at old ages, and face the greatest consumption risk.

Source: Medicaid Insurance in Old Age from NBER by Mariacristina De Nardi (et al).

Comments (11)

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  1. Randall says:

    Rich people can afford the healthiest lifestyle and regular doc visits. In theory, that means that they should live longer and actually reach the age where they have frequent and critical medical needs.

    • JD says:

      Exactly. They also will likely have enough money to provide for themselves, so Medicaid shouldn’t be paying for it.

  2. Cabaret says:

    A “July 2012 Kaiser Health tracking poll includes a representative cross-section of the U.S. adult population. Kaiser asked “How important for you and your family is the Medicaid program” Over 52% of respondents stated that Medicaid is either very important (35%) or somewhat important (17%).”

    Obviously many people medicaid is important to them.

  3. Dewaine says:

    So, now we’re going to end up paying for rich people? Great…

  4. Sal says:

    Interesting. Haven’t thought about it this way.

  5. Buster says:

    Medicaid has become a way to protect middle-class kids’ inheritance.

    I’ve witnesses numerous cases where a house sat empty while the owner went into a Medicaid nursing home. Later the house was taken over by a son or daughter, rather than sold by the state.