NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Health Insurance and Less Skilled Workers

Janet Currie, Aaron Yelowitz

NBER Working Paper No. 7291
Issued in August 1999
NBER Program(s):   HC   LS

We begin this research with the belief that low and declining levels of private-employer sponsored health insurance were a continuing problem, especially among less skilled workers. Our analysis, however, paints a more complex picture. Using data from the March CPS, the SIP, and CPS benefits surveys, we find that while many less skilled workers remain uncovered, the decline in private employer-sponsored health insurance coverage has slowed recently and may even have reversed. Neither crowdout nor a deterioration in the quality of jobs available to the less skilled seems likely to fully explain these time-series trends in health insurance coverage. A simple explanation that has been largely overlooked is that rising health care costs have driven much of the reduction in private insurance coverage, but it is more difficult to test this hypothesis given the available data.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7291

Published: Card, David and Rebecca Blank (eds.) Finding Jobs: Work and Welfare Reform. New York: Russell Sage, 2000.

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