Marriage-Lock: Staying Together for the Sake of Health Insurance

Heeju Sohn, University of Pennsylvania

Most American adults under 65 obtain health insurance through their employer or their spouse. The absence of a universal healthcare system in the US put Americans at considerable risk for losing their coverage when transitioning out of jobs or marriages. Scholars have found evidence of ‘job-lock’ that reduces job mobility among individuals who are dependent on their employers for healthcare. In this paper, I present evidence of ‘marriage-lock’ among those who are dependent on their spouse for insurance. I apply the hazards model to married individuals in the longitudinal 2004wave of the Survey of Income Program Participation and find lower divorce rates among people who are insured through another’s plan. These effects are magnified for individuals who have a greater need for coverage. Furthermore, I find gender differences in the relationship between healthcare coverage and divorce rates: insurance dependent women have lower rates of divorce than men in similar situations.

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Presented in Poster Session 2