Research Problem: Can Anyone Devise a Method to Test Whether Medicare and/or Social Security Have Negatively Impacted General Health?

Roger Roots, J.D., Ph.D.

Roger Roots, J.D., Ph.D.

by Dr. Roger I. Roots

A previous post on the fact that today’s senior citizens are generally sicker (but longer-living, due to medical advancements) than their predecessors got me thinking.

Can this increased level of sickness and chronic illness among today’s populations be partially attributed to Medicare? Or to Social Security?

This is not as outlandish as it seems. I’ve read some research suggesting that increased use of safety devices such as seat belts, and car insurance may be correlated with riskier driving behavior by drivers.

The evidence is overwhelming that Social Security has incentivized Americans to save less, invest less, and retire earlier. Overall, Americans work fewer total hours per lifetime in response to Social Security (and, presumably, Medicare). The country is slightly poorer and less prosperous than it would have been otherwise. Could these entitlement programs also incentivize American workers to work less safe? Or to live less healthy?

I don’t know how to test or measure this hypothesis. If anyone who can offer a suggestion would email me at [email protected], I would be very grateful.