The Articulation Effect of Government Policy: Health Insurance Mandates Versus Taxes
AbstractWe examine how the articulation of government policy affects behavior. Our experiment compares a government mandate to purchase health insurance to a financially equivalent tax on the uninsured. Participants report their probability of purchasing health insurance under one of the two articulations of the policy. The experiment was conducted in four waves, from December 2011 to November 2012. We document the controversy over the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate provision that changed the political discourse during the year. Pre-controversy, articulating the policy as a mandate, rather than a financially equivalent tax, increased probability of insurance purchase by 10.6 percentage points — an effect comparable to a $1000 decrease in annual premiums. After the controversy, the mandate is no more effective than the tax. Our results show that how a policy is articulated affects behavior and that persuasion and public opinion management can help achieve policy objectives at lower cost.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18913.
Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Note: HC LE PE
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, and Operations
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Economics; Underlying Principles
- D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
- H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
- H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
- I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-03-30 (All new papers)
- NEP-EXP-2013-03-30 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-HEA-2013-03-30 (Health Economics)
- NEP-IAS-2013-03-30 (Insurance Economics)
- NEP-REG-2013-03-30 (Regulation)
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