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Unhealthy Insurance Markets: Search Frictions and the Cost and Quality of Health Insurance

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  • Randall D. Cebul
  • James B. Rebitzer
  • Lowell J. Taylor
  • Mark E. Votruba

Abstract

We analyze the effect of search frictions in the market for commercial health insurance. Frictions increase insurance premiums (enough to transfer 13.2 percent of consumer surplus from fully insured employer groups to insurers—approximately $34.4 billion in 1997); and increase insurance turnover (by 64 percent for the average policy). This rent transfer harms consumers and—when combined with heightened turnover—reduces incentives to invest in future health. We also find that a publicly financed insurance option can improve the efficiency of private insurance markets by reducing search friction induced distortions in pricing and marketing efforts. (JEL D83 G22, I18)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (August)
Pages: 1842-71

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:5:p:1842-71

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  1. Manning, Willard G. & Mullahy, John, 2001. "Estimating log models: to transform or not to transform?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 461-494, July.
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  12. Jeffrey R. Brown & Amy Finkelstein, 2007. "Why is the market for long-term care insurance so small?," NBER Chapters, in: Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), Public Policy and Retirement, pages 1967-1991 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Rahkovsky, Ilya, 2010. "Exclusive contracts in health insurance," MPRA Paper 27473, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Schmitz, Hendrik & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2011. "In Absolute or Relative Terms? How Framing Prices Affects the Consumer Price Sensitivity of Health Plan Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 6241, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Scott E. Harrington, 2011. "The Continuing Debate on Health Insurance Reform," NFI Policy Briefs 2011-PB-09, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.
  4. Hendrik Schmitz & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2011. "In Absolute or Relative Terms? How Framing Prices Affects the Consumer Price Sensitivity of," Ruhr Economic Papers 0304, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  5. Keith M Marzilli Ericson & Amanda Starc, 2013. "How Product Standardization Affects Choice: Evidence from the Massachusetts Health Insurance Exchange," NBER Working Papers 19527, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Martin Dumav, 2013. "Health Insurance over the Life Cycle with Adverse Selection," 2013 Meeting Papers 1138, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Miller, Amalia R. & Eibner, Christine & Gresenz, Carole Roan, 2013. "Financing of employer sponsored health insurance plans before and after health reform: What consumers don’t know won’t hurt them?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 36-47.
  8. Mariana Carrera & Dana Goldman & Geoffrey Joyce, 2013. "Heterogeneity in Cost-Sharing and Cost-Sensitivity, and the Role of the Prescribing Physician," NBER Working Papers 19186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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