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The Labor Market Effects of Rising Health Insurance Premiums

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  • Katherine Baicker
  • Amitabh Chandra

Abstract

Since 2000, premiums for employer-provided health insurance have increased by 59 percent with little corresponding increase in the generosity of coverage. The effect of this increase in costs on wages and employment will depend on workers' valuation of the benefit, the elasticities of labor supply and demand, and institutional constraints on employers' ability to lower wages. Measuring these effects is difficult, however, without a source of exogenous variation in the cost of benefits. We use variation in medical malpractice payments driven by the recent "medical malpractice crisis" to identify the causal effect of rising health insurance premiums on wages, employment, and health insurance coverage. We estimate that a 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums reduces the aggregate probability of being employed by 1.6 percent and hours worked by 1 percent, and increases the likelihood that a worker is employed only part-time by 1.9 percent. For workers covered by employer provided health insurance, this increase in premiums results in an offsetting decrease in wages of 2.3 percent. Thus, rising health insurance premiums may both increase the ranks of the unemployed and place an increasing burden on workers through decreased wages for workers with employer health insurance and decreased hours for workers moved from full time jobs with benefits to part time jobs without.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11160.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Publication status: published as Baicker, Katherine and Amitabh Chandra. "The Labor Market Effects Of Rising Health Insurance Premiums," Journal of Labor Economics, 2006, v24(3,Jul), 609-634.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11160

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  1. Daniel P. Kessler & Mark McClellan, 1996. "Do Doctors Practice Defensive Medicine?," NBER Working Papers 5466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Imperfect Knowledge, Retirement and Saving," NBER Working Papers 8406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Baicker Katherine & Chandra Amitabh, 2005. "The Effect of Malpractice Liability on the Delivery of Health Care," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-29, January.
  4. Frank A. Sloan & Lindsey M. Chepke, 2008. "Medical Malpractice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262195720, December.
  5. 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.
  6. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  7. Kessler, Daniel & McClellan, Mark, 1996. "Do Doctors Practice Defensive Medicine?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 353-90, May.
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