Wage and Benefit Changes in Response to Rising Health Insurance Costs

by Dana P. Goldman, Neeraj Sood, Arleen Leibowitz

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Many companies have defined-contribution benefit plans requiring employees to pay the full cost (before taxes) of more generous health insurance choices. Research has shown that employee decisions are quite responsive to these arrangements. What is less clear is how the total compensation package changes when health insurance premiums rise. This paper examines employee compensation decisions during a three-year period when health insurance premiums were rising rapidly. The data come from a single large firm with a flexible benefits plan wherein employees explicitly choose how to allocate compensation between cash wages and other benefits. Under such an arrangement, higher health insurance premiums must induce changes in the composition of total compensation — either in lower after-tax wages or in decreased contributions to other benefits. The results suggest that about two-thirds of the premium increase is financed out of cash wages and the remaining one-thirds is financed by a reduction in benefits.

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND Health.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.

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.