The Impact of the Macroeconomy on Health Insurance Coverage: Evidence from the Great Recession



This paper investigates the impact of the macroeconomy on the health insurance coverage of Americans using panel data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation for 2004–2010, a period that includes the Great Recession of 2007–2009. We find that a one percentage point increase in the state unemployment rate is associated with a 1.67 percentage point (2.12%) reduction in the probability that men have health insurance; this effect is strongest among college-educated, white, and older (50–64 years old) men. For women and children, health insurance coverage is not significantly correlated with the unemployment rate, which may be the result of public health insurance acting as a social safety net. Compared with the previous recession, the health insurance coverage of men is more sensitive to the unemployment rate, which may be due to the nature of the Great Recession. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.