Death Spiral or Euthanasia? The Demise of Generous Group Health Insurance Coverage
AbstractEmployers must determine which sorts of healthcare insurance plans to offer employees and also set employee premiums for each plan provided. Depending on how they structure the premiums that employees pay across different healthcare insurance plans, plan sponsors alter the incentives to choose one plan over another. If employees know they differ by risk level but premiums do not fully reflect these risk differences, this can give rise to a so-called "death spiral" due to adverse selection. In this paper use longitudinal information from a natural experiment in the management of health benefits for a large employer to explore the impact of moving from a fixed dollar contribution policy to a risk-adjusted employer contribution policy. Our results suggest that implementing a significant risk adjustment had no discernable effect on adverse selection against the most generous indemnity insurance policy. This stands in stark contrast to previous studies, which have tended to find large impacts. Further analysis suggests that previous studies which appeared to detect plans in the throes of a death spiral, may instead have been experiencing an inexorable movement away from a non-preferred product, one that would have been inefficient for almost all workers even in the absence of adverse selection.
Download InfoIf 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.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10464.
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
- G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2004-08-31 (All new papers)
- NEP-EDU-2004-06-07 (Education)
- NEP-HEA-2004-08-31 (Health Economics)
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.:
- Strombom, Bruce A. & Buchmueller, Thomas C. & Feldstein, Paul J., 2002. "Switching costs, price sensitivity and health plan choice," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 89-116, January.
- Cutler, David M. & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 2000.
"The anatomy of health insurance,"
Handbook of Health Economics,
in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 563-643
- Melissa W. Barringer & Olivia S. Mitchell, .
"Workers' Preferences Among Company-Provided Health Insurance Plans,"
Pension Research Council Working Papers
94-5, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
- Melissa W. Barringer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 1994. "Workers' preferences among company-provided health insurance plans," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(1), pages 141-152, October.
- Beaulieu, Nancy Dean, 2002. "Quality information and consumer health plan choices," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 43-63, January.
- David M. Cutler & Sarah Reber, 1996.
"Paying for Health Insurance: The Tradeoff between Competition and Adverse Selection,"
NBER Working Papers
5796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David M. Cutler & Sarah J. Reber, 1998. "Paying For Health Insurance: The Trade-Off Between Competition And Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 433-466, May.
- Roger Feldman & Michael Finch & Bryan Dowd & Steven Cassou, 1989. "The Demand for Employment-Based Health Insurance Plans," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(1), pages 115-142.
- Anne Beeson Royalty & Neil Solomon, 1999. "Health Plan Choice: Price Elasticities in a Managed Competition Setting," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-41.
- Buchmueller, Thomas C. & Feldstein, Paul J., 1997. "The effect of price on switching among health plans," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 231-247, April.
- David Bardey & Jean-Charles Rochet, 2010.
"Competition Among Health Plans: A Two-Sided Market Approach,"
Journal of Economics & Management Strategy,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(2), pages 435-451, 06.
- David Bardey & Jean-Charles Rochet, 2009. "Competition among health plans: a two-sided market approach," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 005217, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
- Death spiral (insurance) in Wikipedia (English)
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.