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Health insurance is the focus of the latest INQUIRY Journal

"How Do Households Choose Their Employer-Based Health Insurance?" by Jean- Marie Abraham, William B. Vogt, Martin S. Gaynor-- This study found that price influences workers' selection of employer-based health coverage, and that price sensitivity varies depending on marital status, wealth, and the number of employer coverage offers a household has. Results indicate that as wages increase, households are more likely to opt for complete household coverage; alternatively, lower-income households are less likely to choose plans with coverage for all family members. Op-out payments -- compensation offered by employers to not take health coverage -- also influences choice and switching from one employer plan to another, when an alternative is available.

"Money and Mandates: Relative Effects of Key Policy Levers in Expanding Health Insurance Coverage to All Americans," by Jeanne M. Lambrew and Jonathan Gruber-- This analysis examined scenarios -- involving an employer mandate, individual mandate and tax subsidies -- to gauge their impact on expanding health coverage to all Americans. Results suggest that only a mandate requiring individuals to obtain insurance would cover all the uninsured; neither an employer mandate nor generous subsidies alone would be adequate, and even together they would not achieve universal coverage. An employer mandate would shift coverage to the employer system, and some could lose their employer coverage if a new, voluntary purchasing pool and generous subsidies were introduced. Federal costs would be highest with combined employer and individual mandates. Universal coverage could be achieved with lower subsidies and an individual mandate, but would mean higher out-of-pocket costs for individuals.

"Effects of Public Premiums on Children's Health Insurance Coverage: Evidence from 1999 to 2003," by Genevieve Kenney, Jack Hadley and Fredric Blavin-- Using 2000-2004 data from the Current Population Survey, this study found that raising premiums for public health insurance programs reduced enrollment in those public programs. While this could generate savings for states, and some children who forgo public coverage would have private insurance instead, other children would end up uninsured. Findings show that premiums had the greatest effect on lower-income families.

"Insurance Premiums and Insurance Coverage of Near-Poor Children," by Jack Hadley, James D. Reschovsky, Peter Cunningham, Genevieve Kenney and Lisa Dubay.This analysis showed that higher public premiums are associated with a lower probability of near-poor children being enrolled in public insurance programs. Additionally, it found an association between higher public premiums and a greater probability of near-poor children being uninsured or having private coverage. Results imply that increases in both public and private premiums are likely to leave more near-poor children without any insurance.

"Effects of Premium Increases on Enrollment in SCHIP: Findings from Three States," by Genevieve Kenney, R. Andrew Allison, Julia F. Costich, James Marton, and Joshua McFeeters- Examining enrollment in the State Children's Health Insurance Program in Kansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire, this study found premium increases associated with lower caseloads in all three states and earlier disenrollment in Kentucky and New Hampshire. Premium hikes led to greater disenrollment among lower-income children in New Hampshire and nonwhite children in Kentucky.

"Access to Health Insurance, Barriers to Care, and Service Use among Adults with Disabilities," by Anna S. Sommers- This study looked at adults with various levels of disability and found all disabled groups reporting more unmet need and higher medical service use than non-disabled adults with the same insurance status. Low-income adults who were less disabled, but still work-limited had the greatest problems with access to health coverage, and more than one-third were uninsured.

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