To Offer or Not to Offer

The Role of Price Employers' Health Insurance Decisions

Published in: Health Services Research, v. 36, no. 5, Oct. 2001, p. 935-958

Posted on on January 01, 2001

by M. Susan Marquis, Stephen H. Long

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.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the effect of changes in price on employers' decisions to offer health insurance. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: A 1993 survey of 22,347 private employers in ten states was used. STUDY DESIGN: Probit regression was used to estimate the probability of offering insurance as a function of the price and employer characteristics. For employers who did not offer insurance, a price cannot be directly observed. We estimated price for nonofferors using reported quotes received by recent shoppers and a selection model to correct for differences between recent shoppers and nonshoppers. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Changes in price affect decisions to offer insurance; however, even a 40 percent reduction in premiums would lead to only a 2 to 3 percentage point increase in the share of employers offering insurance. Employers of low-wage workers are substantially less likely to offer health insurance than other employers. CONCLUSIONS: Policies to reduce the number of uninsured that focus on increasing the supply of employment-based insurance are unlikely to have the intended effect unless coupled with policies to help low-wage workers afford insurance.

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.

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.