Household Labor Search, Spousal Insurance, and Health Care Reform
69 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2019 Last revised: 16 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 14, 2019
Health insurance in the United States for the working age population has traditionally been provided in the form of employer-sponsored health insurance (ESHI). If employers offered ESHI to their employees, they also typically extended coverage to their spouse and dependents. Provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) significantly alter the incentive for firms to offer insurance to the spouses of employees. We evaluate the long-run impact of the ACA on firms’ insurance offerings and on household outcomes by developing and estimating an equilibrium job search model in which multiple household members are searching for jobs. The distribution of job offers is determined endogenously, with compensation packages consisting of a wage and menu of insurance offerings (premiums and coverage) that workers select from. Using our estimated model we find that households’ valuation of employersponsored spousal health insurance is significantly reduced under the ACA, and with an “employee-only” health insurance contract emerging among low productivity firms. We relate these outcomes to the specific provisions in the ACA.
Keywords: Health, Health Insurance, Labor Market Equilibrium, Household Search
JEL Classification: G22, I11, I13, J32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation