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Retiree Health Benefit Coverage and Retirement

In: Government Spending on the Elderly

Employer-provided health benefits for workers who retire before age 65 has fallen over the last decade. We examine a cohort of male workers from the Health and Retirement Survey to explore the dynamics of retiree health benefits and the relationship between retiree health benefits and retirement behavior. A better understanding of this relationship is important to the policy debate over the best way to increase health coverage for older Americans without reducing work incentives. Concerning the dynamics at work, we find that, between 1992 and 1996, 24 percent of full-time workers who had retiree health benefits lost their coverage, while 15 percent of full-time workers who lacked coverage gained it. Also, of the full-time employed men who were covered by retiree health benefits in 1992 and had retired by 1996, 3 percent were uninsured, and 15 percent were covered by health insurance other than employer-provided insurance. On the relationship between retiree health benefits and retirement, we find that workers with retiree benefits were 29 to 55 percent more likely to retire than those without. We also find that workers who are eligible for retiree health benefits tend to take advantage of them when they are relatively young.

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This chapter was published in: Dimitri B. Papadimitriou (ed.) Government Spending on the Elderly, Palgrave Macmillan, pages 222-242, 2007.
This item is provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in its series Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers with number sawpalmac.
Handle: RePEc:upj:uchaps:sawpalmac
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  1. Rogowski, Jeannette & Karoly, Lynn, 2000. "Health insurance and retirement behavior: evidence from the health and retirement survey," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 529-539, July.
  2. Michael Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 1993. "The Relationship Between Job Characteristics and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 4558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lynn A. Karoly & Jeannette A. Rogowski, 1994. "The Effect of Access to Post-Retirement Health Insurance on the Decision to Retire Early," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(1), pages 103-123, October.
  4. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2002. "Timing, togetherness and time windfalls," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 601-623.
  5. 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.
  6. Jonathan Gruber & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2002. "Health Insurance, Labor Supply, and Job Mobility: A Critical Review of the Literature," NBER Working Papers 8817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Richard W. Johnson & Amy J. Davidoff & Kevin Perese, 2003. "Health Insurance Costs and Early Retirement Decisions," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 716-729, July.
  8. repec:att:wimass:9430 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1994. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Public Economics 9406005, EconWPA, revised 06 Jul 1994.
  10. Richard W. Johnson & Amy J. Davidoff & Kevin Perese, 2003. "Health insurance costs and early retirement decisions," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 716-729, July.
  11. Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt & Seth D. Harris & Orley Lobel (ed.), Labor and Employment Law and Economics, volume 2, pages 480-516 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
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