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Employee choice of flexible spending account participation and health plan

Barton Hamilton () and James Marton ()

Health Economics, 2008, vol. 17, issue 7, 793-813

Abstract: Despite the fact that flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are becoming an increasingly popular employer-provided health benefit, there has been very little empirical study of FSA use among employees at the individual level. This study contributes to the literature on FSAs using a unique data set that provides three years of employee-level-matched benefits data. Motivated by the theoretical model of FSA choice presented in Cardon and Showalter (J. Health Econ. 2001; 20 (6):935-954), we examine the determinants of FSA participation and contribution levels using cross-sectional and random-effect two-part models. FSA participation and health plan choice are also modeled jointly in each year using conditional logit models. We find that, even after controlling for a number of other demographic characteristics, non-whites are less likely to participate in the FSA program, have lower contributions conditional on participation, and have a lower probability of switching to new lower cost share, higher premium plans when they were introduced. We also find evidence that choosing health plans with more expected out-of-pocket expenses is correlated with participation in the FSA program. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Date: 2008
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