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Tax Incentives and the Decision to Purchase Health Insurance: Evidence from the Self-Employed


  • Jonathan Gruber
  • James Poterba


The Tax Reform Act of 1986 introduced a new tax subsidy for health insurance purchases by the self-employed. We analyze the changing patterns of insurance demand before and after tax reform to generate new estimates of how the after-tax price of insurance affects the discrete choice of whether to buy insurance. We employ both traditional regression models and difference-in-difference methods that compare changes in insurance coverage across groups around TRA86. The results from our most carefully controlled comparison suggest that a 1 percent increase in the cost of insurance coverage reduces the probability that a self-employed single person will be insured by 1.8 percentage points.

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  • Jonathan Gruber & James Poterba, 1994. "Tax Incentives and the Decision to Purchase Health Insurance: Evidence from the Self-Employed," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 109(3), pages 701-733.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:3:p:701-733.

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