Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Goodman, Doug

Committee Member

Breaux, David A.

Committee Member

Buchanan, Robert

Committee Member

Shaffer, Stephen D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


In any given week glance through the nation's leading newspapers and popular magazines and chances are you will find an article on the nation's medically uninsured. In chiding a country that allows 16% of its citizens to suffer the risks associated with that lack of insurance, reference is frequently given to the exemplary coverage provided to federal government employees by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. What of the benefits provided to state government employees? How good is the coverage, and, of particular interest, are there significant variations across states and what factors might contribute to those differences? This study assesses the level of health care benefits afforded to state government employees in all fifty states and considers the potential impact of political ideology, political culture, economic conditions and public employee union membership in influencing variations in those benefits across the states. The state paid portion of a family’s health care premium was adjusted to allow for differences in health care costs across the states resulting in a range of the level of benefits from $318 per month in Mississippi to $1834 per month in New Hampshire. A state’s economic condition, the level of public union membership, and a moralistic political culture were all shown to have a positive association with the level of benefits. Political ideology, defined as the degree of liberalism, was, however, not shown to have a statistical association. Understanding health care benefit differences between states and the factors that drive those differences has the potential of improving lives and the functioning of state governments. Scant information on those differences exist in the current literature; this study has developed a baseline of information and an assessment of driving influences that will, hopefully, stimulate additional approaches and research efforts. Benefits, in general, have been shown in the literature to impact the ability of state governments to attract and maintain employees of merit. Advocates of increased benefits can utilize these study results to place their requests in a broader context.