Health Insurance Take-up by the Near Elderly

Thomas C. Buchmueller, Sabina Ohri

NBER Working Paper No. 11951
Issued in January 2006
NBER Program(s):Aging, Health Care

This study examines the effect of price on the demand for health insurance by early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. The analysis is based on administrative data from a medium sized employer and takes advantage of a natural experiment created by the firm's health insurance contribution policy. The amount the firm contributes toward retiree health insurance coverage depends on when a person retired and her years of service at that date. As a result of this policy, there is considerable variation in out-of-pocket premiums faced by individuals in the data, but this variation is independent of the non-price attributes of the health insurance plans offered, and plausibly exogenous to individual characteristics that are likely to affect the demand for insurance. We find that price has a statistically significant but small effect on the decision to take up coverage. The implied elasticities are very similar to results found in previous studies using very different data.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11951

Published: Buchmueller, Thomas C. and Sabina Ohri. “Health Insurance Take-up by the Near-Elderly.” Health Services Research 41, 6 ((December 2006): 2054-2073.

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