The Great Recession and Workers’ Health Benefits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

During a recession, cost-sharing of employer-sponsored health benefits could increase to reduce labor costs in the U.S. Using a variation in the severity of recession shocks across industries, I find evidence that the enrollment rate of high deductible health plans (HDHPs) among workers covered by employer-sponsored health benefits increased more among firms in industries that experienced severe recession shocks. As potential mechanisms, I study employer-side and worker-side mechanisms. I find that employers changed health benefit offerings to force or incentivize workers to enroll in HDHPs. But I find little evidence of an increase in workers’ demand for HDHPs due to a reduction in income. These results suggest that the HDHP enrollment rate increased during the Great Recession, as employers tried to save costs of offering health benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-28
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Volume58
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Employer-sponsored health benefits
  • High deductible health plans
  • The Great Recession

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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