Health Insurance and Labor Market Transitions of Older Workers

by Lynn A. Karoly, Jeannette Rogowski

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This report describes the labor market transitions associated with the availability and cost of post-retirement health insurance among the population that is not yet eligible for Medicare. The study uses data from the Health and Retirement Survey, a nationally representative survey of Americans who are near elderly, to study transitions from full-time to part-time employment or retirement, and from wage and salary employment to self employment or retirement. The study should be useful to policymakers interested in understanding how public policies aimed at expanding access to health insurance among the near elderly may affect labor market transitions. These include such policy initiatives as continuation and portability mandates, as well as buy-ins to Medicare. In addition, it provides insights on how increases in the age of full Medicare eligibility as well as the trend towards decreased generosity of retiree health insurance among employers might affect the labor force behavior of older workers.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Draft series. The unrestricted draft was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003 that represented preliminary or prepublication versions of other more formal RAND products for distribution to appropriate external audiences. The draft could be considered similar to an academic discussion paper. Although unrestricted drafts had been approved for circulation, they were not usually formally edited or peer reviewed.

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