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Key Findings Details

Health Insurance, Health Care and Labor Supply by Older Adults
Lauren Nicholas
WP 2011-256

  • This study finds that joint replacement surgery reduces the probability of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) by up to 7 percentage points and is associated with working an additional 1.3 years before receiving any form of Social Security benefits. 
  • Elective angioplasty is associated with a 12 percentage point decline in the probablility of applying for SSDI and an additional 3.5 year delay before claiming Social Security benefits.
  • The study finds no relationship between receipt of either joint replacement or angioplasty and the decision to apply for SSDI.
  • Increasing access to medical care amongst chronically ill workers may help to reduce new SSDI applications.
  • Temporary benefit programs to provide income support to workers taking medical leave to receive surgery, for example, could help to reduce transitions to SSDI.
  • Reduction of elective procedure utilization in Medicare could adversely impact the health and economic outcomes of those who have chronic illnesses such as heart disease and arthritis. Cost-effectiveness analysis should factor in savings from elective procedures that prevent or delay health impairment or disability.