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Category: Discovery & Impact, Research

Title: How Administrative Burdens Can Harm Health

Key Points

  • Administrative burdens can negatively affect health by blocking people from accessing health-promoting social welfare programs such as food stamps and income supports, and may also have more direct health impacts via the psychological and stress mechanisms that come from navigating burdensome bureaucracies.
  • Administrative burdens include learning costs, such as finding out whether one is eligible for a program; compliance costs, such as burdensome paperwork and T documentation; and psychological costs, such as the stress and stigma that people feel when interacting with government programs.
  • We know relatively little about the downstream health implications of negative encounters with bureaucracies. Documenting the health effects of burdens is a compelling research opportunity that population health researchers are uniquely situated to address. To fulfill that opportunity, researchers need to pay just as much attention to the administration of social and economic policies as they do to their design.
  • Administrative burdens associated with social welfare policies and programs may be just as important determinants of health as the policies themselves. Public officials should look to minimize burdens.
Source: Health Policy Brief: How Administrative Burdens Can Harm Health,” Health Affairs, October, 2020.