Does health insurance reduce illness-related worker absenteeism?

TitleDoes health insurance reduce illness-related worker absenteeism?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsXu, X, Jensen, GA
JournalApplied Economics
KeywordsEmployment and Labor Force, Medicare/Medicaid/Health Insurance, Methodology, Other

The objective of this article is to examine whether having health insurance reduces illness-related absenteeism among older workers. A nationally representative sample of 1780 workers in the United States, aged 52-64, are drawn from the 2004-2006 Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Binary logistic regressions and censored Tobit models are estimated for workers' likelihood of missing work days due to illness and the number of illness-related work days missed, respectively, while explicitly addressing the possibility of insurance-selection effects. The findings suggest that over a 12-month period, older workers without health insurance are as likely as insured workers to miss work days due to illness and there are no differences in the number of days missed between insured and uninsured workers. However, there is strong evidence that poor baseline health, onset of new diseases and longer hospitalization significantly increase an older worker's absenteeism at work. These results suggest that having health insurance does not affect illness-related absenteeism among older workers in the US. Future research examining other aspects of worker productivity, such as 'presenteeism', and the longer term effects of insurance on productivity can extend our understanding of the role of health insurance in the workplace. PUBLICATION ABSTRACT

Endnote Keywords

Absenteeism/Health insurance/Studies/Older workers/Economic models/Productivity

Endnote ID


Citation Key7679