Does employer-provided health insurance constrain labor supply adjustments to health shocks? New evidence on women diagnosed with breast cancer
Employment-contingent health insurance may create incentives for ill workers to remain employed at a sufficient level (usually full-time) to maintain access to health insurance coverage. We study employed married women, comparing the labor supply responses to new breast cancer diagnoses of women dependent on their own employment for health insurance with the responses of women who are less dependent on their own employment for health insurance, because of actual or potential access to health insurance through their spouse's employer. We find evidence that women who depend on their own job for health insurance reduce their labor supply by less after a diagnosis of breast cancer. In the estimates that best control for unobservables associated with health insurance status, the hours reduction for women who continue to work is 8 to 11% smaller. Women's subjective responses to questions about working more to maintain health insurance are consistent with the conclusions from observed behavior.
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