The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior

90 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2002

See all articles by Eric French

Eric French

Department of Economics; Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

John Bailey Jones

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; SUNY at Albany - School of Business

Date Written: October 2007


This paper provides an empirical analysis of the effect of employer-provided health insurance and Medicare in determining retirement behavior. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we estimate the first dynamic programming model of retirement that accounts for both saving and uncertain medical expenses. Our results suggest that uncertainty and saving are both important. We find that workers value health insurance well in excess of its actuarial cost, and that access to health insurance has a significant effect on retirement behavior, which is consistent with the empirical evidence. As a result, shifting the Medicare eligibility age to 67 would cause a significant retirement delay - as large as the delay from shifting the Social Security normal retirement age from 65 to 67.

JEL Classification: C51, J22, J26

Suggested Citation

French, Eric and Jones, John B., The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior (October 2007). FRB Chicago Working Paper No. 2001-19, Michigan Retirement Research Center Research Paper No. UM WP 2007-170, Available at SSRN: or

Eric French (Contact Author)

Department of Economics ( email )

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John B. Jones

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond ( email )

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804 697-8206 (Phone)


SUNY at Albany - School of Business ( email )

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