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The Macroeconomic Consequences of Financing Health Insurance

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  • Stephen B. DeLoach

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Elon University)

  • Jennifer M. Platania

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Elon University)

Abstract

Employer-financed health insurance systems, like that used in the United States, distort firms' labor demand and adversely affect the economy. Since such costs vary with employment rather than hours worked, firms have an incentive to increase output by increasing worker hours rather than employment. Given that the returns to employment exceed the returns to hours worked, this results in lower levels of employment and output. In this paper we construct a heterogeneous agent general equilibrium model where individuals differ with respect to their productivity and employment opportunities. Calibrating the model to the U.S. economy, we generate steady state results for several alternative models for financing health insurance: one in which health insurance is financed primarily through employer contributions that vary with employment; a second where insurance is funded through a non-distortionary, lump-sum tax; and a third where insurance is funded by a payroll tax. We measure the effects of each of the alternatives on output, employment, hours worked and inequality.

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File URL: http://org.elon.edu/econ/WPS/wp2008-04.pdf
File Function: First version, 2008
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Elon University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2008-04.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:elo:wpaper:2008-04

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  1. Arnold C. Harberger, 1962. "The Incidence of the Corporation Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 215.
  2. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
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  4. Karsten Jeske & Sagiri Kitao, 2007. "U.S. tax policy and health insurance demand: can a regressive policy improve welfare?," Working Paper 2007-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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  7. A. S. Yelowitz, . "The Medicaid notch, labor supply, and welfare participation: Evidence from eligibility expansions," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1084-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  8. Robert S. Smith & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1981. "Estimating Wage-Fringe Trade-Offs: Some Data Problems," NBER Working Papers 0827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Thomas C. Buchmueller & Robert G. Valletta, 1999. "The Effect of Health Insurance on Married Female Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 42-70.
  12. Steven P. Cassou & Kevin J. Lansing, 2004. "Growth Effects of Shifting from a Graduated-rate Tax System to a Flat Tax," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(2), pages 194-213, April.
  13. Craig A. Olson, 1998. "A comparison of parametric and semiparametric estimates of the effect of spousal health insurance coverage on weekly hours worked by wives," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(5), pages 543-565.
  14. Janet Currie & Brigitte C. Madrian, 1998. "Health, Health Insurance and the Labor Market," JCPR Working Papers 27, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  15. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  16. Terry J. Fitzgerald, 1996. "Reducing working hours," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 13-22.
  17. David M. Blau & Donna B. Gilleskie, 2001. "Retiree Health Insurance and the Labor Force Behavior of Older Men in the 1990s," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 64-80, February.
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