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

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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.

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