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 debt 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 larger gains in financial health at age 65 had higher shares of black residents, people with disabilities, and for-profit hospitals.
First version, January 15, 2020
I13: Health Insurance, Public and Private
E50: Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit: General
J15: Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination