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eriu: Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured Initiating and disemminating research to spark new policy discussion on health coverage issues.
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Author: Monheit, Alan C. ; Buchmueller, Thomas C.
Working Paper: Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance And The Promise Of Health Insurance Reform (PDF) ; 8/08

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Author: Monheit, Alan C. ; Vistnes, Jessica Primoff
Working Paper: Health Insurance Enrollment Decisions: Understanding the Role of Preferences for Coverage (PDF) ; July 2004

Research Findings (HTML)

The weak response by the uninsured to targeted policy initiatives encouraging voluntary enrollment in private and public health insurance has raised concern regarding the extent to which the uninsured value health insurance. To address this issue, we use data from the 2000 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine the association between health insurance preferences and health insurance status and to consider the role played by such preferences in decisions by single and married workers to seek out and enroll in employment-based coverage. Our descriptive tabulations reveal that adults with weak or uncertain preferences for health insurance are more likely than persons with strong preferences to be uninsured and less likely to acquire coverage when uninsured. Our econometric work also indicates that single and married workers with weak or uncertain preferences for health insurance are less likely to obtain job offers with insurance, reinforcing prior evidence that workers may sort among jobs according to their preferences for coverage. We also find that workers with weak or uncertain preferences are less likely to enroll in offered coverage and provide estimates of the subsidy necessary to compensate such workers for the loss in utility were they to enroll. Our results suggest a dual approach to expanding coverage that includes both subsidies and educational efforts to inform targeted groups among the uninsured about the value of health insurance.