The role of retiree health insurance in the early retirement of public-sector employees

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Article Highlights

  • For state and local government employees, retiree health coverage raises the probability of stopping work by around 28 percent between ages 60 and 64.

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  • We find no evidence that retiree health coverage influences state and local employees’ decisions to stop work at ages 55-59.

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  • We do not see the same effects on the probability of stopping work for federal and military employees.

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Read the full working paper here

Abstract

Most private sector workers with employer-provided health insurance have a strong incentive to continue working until Medicare eligibility in order to maintain group health coverage. However, most government employees have access to retiree health coverage, which allows them access to group health coverage even if they retire before Medicare eligibility. We study the impact of retiree health coverage on the probability of stopping work among public sector workers between the ages of 55 and 64. We find that, for state and local government employees, retiree health coverage raises the probability of stopping work by 5.1 percentage points (around 28 percent) between ages 60 and 64. However, we find no evidence that retiree health coverage influences state and local employees’ decisions to stop work at ages 55-59, or that such coverage has an effect on the probability of stopping work for federal and military employees.

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Sita Nataraj
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