Can Food Stamp Receipt Improve Diabetes Control and Reduce Medicare Costs for Elderly Diabetics? Evidence from Biomarker Data

Lauren H. Nicholas, University of Michigan

Rapid growth in diabetes prevalence rates raises concern about the medical and financial burden of caring for elderly diabetics. Survey data on older Americans from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) merged with respondent biomarker and Medicare administrative data are used to examine the relationships among participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Stamp Program, diabetes management and Medicare spending on older, low-income diabetic adults. Two waves of the HRS collected bloodspots, providing clinical indicators of whether respondents’ blood sugar and cholesterol levels were adequately controlled. Food stamp recipients are less likely to have blood sugar and cholesterol levels within recommended ranges. Fixed effect regressions of Medicare spending on food stamp receipt and other characteristics will be estimated for a sample of elderly diabetics observed between 1996 and 2005. Results will provide preliminary evidence of the role of the Food Stamp program in mitigating the burden of diabetes.

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Presented in Session 138: Public Health Implications of Health in Late Life