Reflecting on the findings of the study, Monheit observes, "Having data on preferences for insurance is important because demographic data often used as proxies, such as gender or race, do not do a good job of helping us understand preferences."
Monheit concluded that "preferences do matter in whether people seek or accept health insurance and workers will seek employment situations that are consistent with their preferences."
He further states, "There may be a considerable gap between the perceptions of policy-makers and some of the uninsured regarding the social and private value of health insurance. We think both voluntary and mandatory approaches to coverage are important. These may need to involve educational efforts to help people understand the protection they get from coverage."
In looking back, Monheit says: "I was senior in my field when I came to the program, but it did get me thinking about other areas. I am now more interested in issues related to socioeconomic status and health than I was."
RWJF Perspective: RWJF established the Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured in 2000 to generate information on the relationship between the labor market and health insurance coverage. RWJF also wanted to elicit new ideas about these relationships by attracting applied economists who had not previously focused on health concerns and by drawing upon new analytical frameworks.
"Given the number of uninsured people, the fragility of insurance for those who have it and the spiraling costs of care to individuals, businesses and the government, we needed the best information and the best ideas about ways to address the connections between work and health insurance. The Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured was designed to fill gaps in our knowledge and understanding of these complicated relationships," said David C. Colby, PhD, RWJF's Vice President for Research and Evaluation and program officer for the initiative.