How Much Do Older Workers Value Employee Health Insurance?

Anthony WebbLeora Friedberg Wei Sun

IB#8-9

Introduction

This brief seeks to answer the question in the title by analyzing data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative survey of older Americans.  New questions in the HRS enable researchers to compare the value that workers place on health insurance with their perceptions about the cost of coverage.

The comparison of cost with willingness-to-pay is important for two reasons.  First, it helps us understand why some workers and their families do not have health insurance.  In one sense, the reason is straightforward.  The overwhelming majority — 85 percent — of uninsured workers of all ages are either ineligible for coverage that their employer provides or else work for an employer that does not offer coverage.  This absence of employer-provided coverage leaves them to seek health insurance on the individual market, where both prices and denial rates are high…