Dissertation Title： "Employment, Health Insurance, and Health Care for Vulnerable Populations: Early Retirees, Low-Income Adults, and Racial/Ethnic Minorities"In the first paper, I examine the potential consequences of the recent decline in employer-sponsored retiree health insurance (RHI) offer for the near-elderly population. I find than an RHI offer increases the probability of early retirement by 35 percent. While the results suggest that an RHI offer has little, if any, effect on health in the short term, there is strong evidence that it provides significant protection from high out-of-pocket medical costs. Estimates of the value of retiree health insurance suggest that increasing opportunities for the near-elderly to purchase coverage through the individual market or public programs could significantly reduce the projected increase in uninsurance.
In the second paper, I examine the impact of the introduction of the Medicaid program on labor force participation among single women. Using variation in the timing of Medicaid implementation across states and in eligibility across demographic groups, I find no evidence that women who were eligible for Medicaid decreased their labor supply relative to women who were not. These results add to an emerging consensus in the literature suggesting that public health insurance programs for low-income parents and children may be able to achieve health benefits and improve access to care without substantial indirect costs from labor supply distortions. Racial/ethnic concordance between patients and physicians may affect health care disparities by reducing discrimination.
In the third paper, I investigate the role of concordance on rates of preventive screening and the length of outpatient, primary care visits. I find little evidence that concordance plays an important role in these outcomes. Physician race tends to be a much more important predictor of these outcomes than patient race or concordance, but the direction of the effect varies. The results highlight the importance of measuring the role of concordance separately from patient and physician race. They also suggest that policies aimed at increasing the number of minority physicians need to be combined with other methods to improve the quality of primary care.