Comparing Employee Health Benefits in the Public and Private Sectors, 1997

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 18, no. 6, Nov./Dec. 1999, p. 183-193

Posted on on January 01, 1999

by Stephen H. Long, M. Susan Marquis

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Data from the 1997 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Employer Health Insurance Survey provide new information comparing public- and private-sector employee health benefits. The federal government is ahead of other employers in adopting managed competition principles using financial incentives and consumer information to promote choosing efficient plans. Federal employees experience a $200 annual compensation gap relative to those in the private sector, but it is partly explained by advantage in purchasing power. In contrast, state and local governments make higher payments toward health insurance than private-sector employers do. Their premiums are equivalent, but they pay a greater share of the total cost.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.