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The Macroeconomic Consequences of Financing Health Insurance


  • Stephen B. DeLoach

    () (Department of Economics, Elon University)

  • Jennifer M. Platania

    () (Department of Economics, Elon University)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen B. DeLoach & Jennifer M. Platania, 2008. "The Macroeconomic Consequences of Financing Health Insurance," Working Papers 2008-04, Elon University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:elo:wpaper:2008-04

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Grace Weishi Gu, . "Employment and the Cyclical Cost of Worker Benefits," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.

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    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • C68 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computable General Equilibrium Models

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