State Mandated Benefits and Employer Provided Health Insurance
One popular explanation for this low rate of employee coverage is the presence of numerous state regulations which mandate that group health insurance plans must include certain benefits. By raising the minimum costs of providing any health insurance coverage, these mandated benefits make it impossible for firms which would have desired to offer minimal health insurance at a low cost to do so. I use data on insurance coverage among employees in small firms to investigate whether this problem is an important cause of employee non-insurance. I find that mandates have little effect on the rate of insurance coverage; this finding is robust to a variety of specifications of the regulations. I also find that this lack of an effect may be because mandates are not binding, since most firms appear to offer these benefits even in the absence of regulation.
Published: Journal of Public Economics, November 1994.