Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Comparison Friction: Experimental Evidence from Medicare Drug Plans

Contents:

Author Info

  • Jeffrey R. Kling
  • Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Eldar Shafir
  • Lee C. Vermeulen
  • Marian V. Wrobel

Abstract

Consumers need information to compare alternatives for markets to function efficiently. Recognizing this, public policies often pair competition with easy access to comparative information. The implicit assumption is that comparison friction--the wedge between the availability of comparative information and consumers' use of it--is inconsequential because when information is readily available, consumers will access this information and make effective choices. We examine the extent of comparison friction in the market for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in the United States. In a randomized field experiment, an intervention group received a letter with personalized cost information. That information was readily available for free and widely advertised. However, this additional step--providing the information rather than having consumers actively access it--had an impact. Plan switching was 28% in the intervention group, versus 17% in the comparison group, and the intervention caused an average decline in predicted consumer cost of about $100 a year among letter recipients--roughly 5% of the cost in the comparison group. Our results suggest that comparison friction can be large even when the cost of acquiring information is small and may be relevant for a wide range of public policies that incorporate consumer choice. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjr055
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 127 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 199-235

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:127:y:2012:i:1:p:199-235

Contact details of provider:

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Amy Finkelstein, 2010. "Comment on "Mind the Gap! Consumer Perceptions and Choices of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans"," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 481-484 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Brown, Jeffrey, 2000. "Does the Internet Make Markets More Competitive? Evidence from the Life Insurance Industry," Working Paper Series rwp00-007, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Ketcham, Jonathan D. & Lucarelli, Claudio & Miravete, Eugenio J & Roebuck, M Christopher, 2011. "Sinking, Swimming, or Learning to Swim in Medicare Part D," CEPR Discussion Papers 8585, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Claudio Lucarelli & Jeffrey Prince & Kosali Simon, 2012. "The Welfare Impact Of Reducing Choice In Medicare Part D: A Comparison Of Two Regulation Strategies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1155-1177, November.
  5. Dana P. Goldman & Geoffrey F. Joyce & William B. Vogt, 2011. "Part D Formulary and Benefit Design as a Risk-Steering Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 382-86, May.
  6. David Weil & Archon Fung & Mary Graham & Elena Fagotto, 2006. "The effectiveness of regulatory disclosure policies," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(1), pages 155-181.
  7. Jason Abaluck & Jonathan Gruber, 2011. "Choice Inconsistencies among the Elderly: Evidence from Plan Choice in the Medicare Part D Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1180-1210, June.
  8. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2010. "Mind the Gap! Consumer Perceptions and Choices of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 413-481 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Heiss, Florian & McFadden, Daniel L. & Winter, Joachim, 2006. "Who failed to enroll in Medicare Part D, and why? Early results," Munich Reprints in Economics 19427, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Erik Brynjolfsson & Michael D. Smith, 2000. "Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 563-585, April.
  11. Morton, Fiona Scott & Zettelmeyer, Florian & Silva-Risso, Jorge, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 501-19, December.
  12. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 2002. "How Much Is Investor Autonomy Worth?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(4), pages 1593-1616, 08.
  13. Fiona Scott Morton & Florian Zettelmeyer & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 501-519 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:127:y:2012:i:1:p:199-235. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.