Medicare helps to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and close gaps in insurance coverage, a new study in JAMA Network shows.
Why it matters: This raises the possibility that expanding the program could further reduce health disparities — a timely idea, as Senate Democrats debate lowering the Medicare eligibility age and broadening its benefits, Axios’ Marisa Fernandez reports.
What they found: Medicare access at age 65 sharply reduced the share of Black and Hispanic people reporting poor health and poor access to care, but not mortality, the study notes.
- Respondents were “significantly more likely” to be insured immediately after age 65 compared to before turning 65, and coverage increased more for Black and Hispanic adults than white adults.
- Medicare eligibility alone doesn’t completely eliminate disparities among the elderly, suggesting other social determinants of health need to be addressed.
State of play: Senate Democrats have signaled that they’ll attempt to expand Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision coverage in the coming months.
- Although lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60 wasn’t included in their original proposal, Axios has reported it’s still possible that the measure gets included.