Union Effects on Health Insurance Provision and Coverage in the United States
36 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2001 Last revised: 4 Jan 2021
Date Written: April 2001
During the past two decades, union density has declined in the United States and employer provision of health benefits has undergone substantial changes in extent and form. Using individual data spanning the years 1983-1997, combined with establishment data for 1993, we update and extend previous analyses of private-sector union effects on employer-provided health benefits. We find that the union effect on health insurance coverage rates has fallen somewhat but remains large, due to an increase over time in the union effect on employee 'take-up' of offered insurance, and that declining unionization explains 20-35 percent of the decline in employee health coverage. The increasing union take-up effect is linked to union effects on employees' direct costs for health insurance and the availability of retiree coverage.
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