Macroeconomic Conditions, Health Care Costs, and the Distribution of Health Insurance
Sherry Glied, Kathrine Jack
NBER Working Paper No. 10029
Prior studies have examined the relationship between macroeconomic factors and health insurance for the adult population and have evaluated changes in the composition of health insurance across the income distribution. We combine these types of analysis and examine how labor market fluctuations, health care costs, income, and economic structure are related to the distribution of health insurance coverage across educational groups. We find that there are substantial differences in how these factors affect insurance coverage for different groups. Variations in unemployment are more important in determining insurance coverage for more educated people. The price of medical care, by contrast, is a much more important determinant of private coverage for the least educated than for the most educated. This finding is consistent with differences in the valuation of cost-increasing health care technologies across education groups.