How Much Does Health Insurance Cost? Comparison of Premiums in Administrative and Survey Data
Using newly available administrative data from the Internal Revenue Service, this paper studies the distribution of employer-sponsored health insurance premiums. Previous estimates, in contrast, were almost exclusively from household surveys. After correcting for coverage limitations of the IRS data, we find that average premiums for employer-sponsored plans are roughly $1000 higher in IRS records than in the Current Population Survey. The downward bias in the CPS is largely driven by underestimating of premiums among married workers and topcoding of high premiums.
Health Insurance and Hospital Supply: Evidence from 1950s Coal Country
The United States government spends billions on public health insurance and has funded a number of programs to build health care facilities. However, the government runs these two types of programs separately: in different places, at different times, and for different populations. We explore whether access to both health insurance and hospitals can improve health outcomes and access to health care. We analyze a coal mining union health insurance program in 1950s Appalachia with and without a complementary hospital construction program. Our results show that the union insurance alone increased ...
Losing Public Health Insurance: TennCare Disenrollment and Personal Financial Distress
A main goal of health insurance is to smooth out the financial risk that comes with health shocks and health care. Nevertheless, there has been relatively sparse evidence on how health insurance affects financial outcomes. The few studies that exist focus on the effect of gaining health insurance. This paper explores the effect of losing public health insurance on measures of individual financial well-being. In 2005, the state of Tennessee dropped about 170,000 individuals from Medicaid, resulting in a plausibly exogenous shock to health insurance status. Both across- and within-county ...
Old, Frail, and Uninsured: Accounting for Puzzles in the U.S. Long-Term Care Insurance Market
Half of U.S. 50-year-olds will experience a nursing home stay before they die, and one in ten will incur out-of-pocket long-term care expenses in excess of $200,000. Surprisingly, only about 10% of individuals over age 62 have private long-term care insurance (LTCI). This paper proposes a quantitative equilibrium optimal contracting model of the LTCI market that features screening along the extensive margin. Frail and/or poor risk groups are ordered a single contract of no insurance that we refer to as a rejection. According to our model, rejections are the main reason that LTCI take-up rates ...
Access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder: is Rhode Island different, and why?
This paper assesses the prevalence of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) among treatment episodes for opioid use disorder (OUD) in Rhode Island, as compared with the remaining New England states and the United States as a whole. Based on the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS-A), a national census of admissions into publicly funded treatment facilities for substance use disorders, we find that during the period beginning in 2000 through 2017, Rhode Island exhibited a greater tendency to use MAT as part of OUD treatment compared with the average state in the United States and compared with the ...
Medicaid Expansion and the Unemployed
We examine how a key provision of the Affordable Care Act—the expansion of Medicaid eligibility—affected health insurance coverage, access to care, and labor market transitions of unemployed workers. Comparing trends in states that implemented the Medicaid expansion to those that did not, we find that the ACA Medicaid expansion substantially increased insurance coverage and improved access to health care among unemployed workers. We then test whether this strengthening of the safety net affected transitions from unemployment to employment or out of the labor force. We find no meaningful ...
The Affordable Care Act and the labor market: a first look
I consider changes in labor markets across U.S. states and counties around the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and its implementation in 2014. I find that counties with large fractions of uninsured (and therefore a large exposure to the ACA) before the enactment or the implementation of the ACA experienced more rapid employment and salary growth than did counties with smaller fractions of people uninsured, both after the implementation of the ACA and after its enactment. I also find that the growth of the fraction of employees in states with larger uninsurance rates was not ...
Just What the Nurse Practitioner Ordered: Independent Prescriptive Authority and Population Mental Health
We examine whether relaxing occupational licensing to allow nurse practitioners (NPs)?registered nurses with advanced degrees?to prescribe medication without physician oversight is associated with improved population mental health. Exploiting time-series variation in independent prescriptive authority for NPs from 1990?2014, we find that broadening prescriptive authority is associated with improvements in self-reported mental health and decreases in mental-health-related mortality, including suicides. These improvements are concentrated in areas underserved by psychiatrists and among ...
How do Doctors Respond to Incentives? Unintended Consequences of Paying Doctors to Reduce Costs
Billions of dollars have been spent on pilot programs searching for ways to reduce healthcare costs. I study one such program, where hospitals pay doctors bonuses for reducing the total hospital costs of admitted Medicare patients (a ?bundled payment?). Doctors respond to the bonuses by becoming more likely to admit patients whose treatment can generate high bonuses, and sorting healthier patients into participating hospitals. Conditional on patient health, however, doctors do not reduce costs or change procedure use. These results highlight the ability of doctors to game incentive schemes, ...
Measuring Interest Rate Risk in the Life Insurance Sector: The U.S. and the U.K.
We use a two factor model of life insurer stock returns to measure interest rate risk at U.S. and U.K. insurers. Our estimates show that interest rate risk among U.S. life insurers increased as interest rates decreased to historically low levels in recent years. For life insurers in the U.K., in contrast, interest rate risk remained low during this time, roughly unchanged from what it was in the period prior to the financial crisis when long-term interest rates were in their usual historical ranges. We attribute these differences to the heavier use of products that combine guarantees with ...