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Estimating the Tradeoff Between Risk Protection and Moral Hazard with a Nonlinear Budget Set Model of Health Insurance

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  • Amanda E. Kowalski

Abstract

Insurance induces a well-known tradeoff between the welfare gains from risk protection and the welfare losses from moral hazard. Empirical work traditionally estimates each side of the tradeoff separately, potentially yielding mutually inconsistent results. I develop a nonlinear budget set model of health insurance that allows for the calculation of both sides of the tradeoff simultaneously, allowing for a relationship between moral hazard and risk protection. An important feature of this model is that it considers nonlinearities in the consumer budget set that arise from deductibles, coinsurance rates, and stoplosses that alter moral hazard as well as risk protection relative to no insurance. I illustrate the properties of my model by estimating it using data on employer sponsored health insurance from a large firm. Within my empirical context, the average deadweight losses from moral hazard substantially outweigh the average welfare gains from risk protection. However, the welfare impact of moral hazard and risk protection are both small relative to transfers from the government through the tax preference for employer sponsored health insurance and transfers from some agents to other agents through a common premium.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18108.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18108

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Cited by:
  1. Harold L. Cole & Soojin Kim & Dirk Krueger, 2012. "Analyzing the Effects of Insuring Health Risks: On the Trade-off between Short Run Insurance Benefits vs. Long Run Incentive Costs," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-047, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Aviva Aron-Dine & Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein, 2012. "The RAND Health Insurance Experiment, Three Decades Later," Discussion Papers, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research 12-007, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  3. Benjamin R. Handel & Jonathan T. Kolstad, 2013. "Health Insurance for “Humans”: Information Frictions, Plan Choice, and Consumer Welfare," NBER Working Papers 19373, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Aviva Aron-Dine & Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein, 2012. "The RAND Health Insurance Experiment, Three Decades Later," NBER Working Papers 18642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Aviva Aron-Dine & Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Mark R. Cullen, 2012. "Moral Hazard in Health Insurance: How Important Is Forward Looking Behavior?," NBER Working Papers 17802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Aviva Aron-Dine & Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Mark Cullen, 2012. "Moral hazard in health insurance: How important is forward looking behavior?," Discussion Papers, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research 11-007, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  7. Benjamin R. Handel, 2013. "Adverse Selection and Inertia in Health Insurance Markets: When Nudging Hurts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2643-82, December.
  8. Benjamin R. Handel, 2011. "Adverse Selection and Switching Costs in Health Insurance Markets: When Nudging Hurts," NBER Working Papers 17459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ed Westerhout & Kees Folmer, 2013. "Why it may hurt to be insured: the effects of capping coinsurance payments," CPB Discussion Paper 239, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

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