Article

Employee choice of flexible spending account participation and health plan

John M Olin School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.
Health Economics (Impact Factor: 2.14). 07/2008; 17(7):793-813. DOI: 10.1002/hec.1296
Source: PubMed

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.

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