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Private Information and its Effect on Market Equilibrium: New Evidence from Long-Term Care Insurance

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  • Amy Finkelstein
  • Kathleen McGarry
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    Abstract

    This paper examines the standard test for asymmetric information in insurance markets: that its presence will result in a positive correlation between insurance coverage and risk occurrence. We show empirically that while there is no evidence of this positive correlation in the long-term care insurance market, asymmetric information still exists. We use individuals' subjective assessments of the chance they will enter a nursing home, together with the insurance companies' own assessment, to show that individuals do have private information about their risk type. Moreover, this private information is positively correlated with insurance coverage. We reconcile this direct evidence of asymmetric information with the lack of a positive correlation between insurance coverage and risk occurrence by demonstrating the existence of other unobserved characteristics that are positively related to coverage and negatively related to risk occurrence. Specifically, we find that more cautious individuals are both more likely to have long-term care insurance and less likely to enter a nursing home. Our results demonstrate that insurance markets may suffer from asymmetric information, and its negative efficiency consequences, even if those with more insurance are not higher risk. The results also suggest an alternative approach to testing for asymmetric information in insurance markets.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9957.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2003
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    Publication status: published as Finkelstein, Amy and Kathleen McGarry. "Private Information and its Effect on Market Equilibrium: Evidence From the Long-Term Care Insurance Market." The American Economic Review 96, 4 (2005): 938-958.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9957

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    1. de Meza, David & Webb, David C, 2001. "Advantageous Selection in Insurance Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 249-62, Summer.
    2. John Cawley & Tomas Philipson, 1997. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade inInsurance," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 132, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    3. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 2002. "Asymmetric Information in Insurance : General Testable Implications," Working Papers 2002-42, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
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    7. Jullien, Bruno & Salanié, Bernard & Salanié, François, 2001. "Screening Risk-Averse Agents Under Moral Hazard," IDEI Working Papers 131, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    8. Li Gan & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden, 2005. "Individual Subjective Survival Curves," NBER Chapters, in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 377-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Andrew Dick & Alan M. Garber & Thomas E. MaCurdy, 1994. "Forecasting Nursing Home Utilization of Elderly Americans," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in the Economics of Aging, pages 365-394 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Norton, Edward C., 2000. "Long-term care," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 17, pages 955-994 Elsevier.
    11. Mellor, Jennifer M., 2001. "Long-term care and nursing home coverage: are adult children substitutes for insurance policies?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 527-547, July.
    12. Cardon, James H & Hendel, Igal, 2001. "Asymmetric Information in Health Insurance: Evidence from the National Medical Expenditure Survey," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 408-27, Autumn.
    13. Cutler, David M., 2002. "Health care and the public sector," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 31, pages 2143-2243 Elsevier.
    14. Smith, V. Kerry & Taylor, Donald H., Jr. & Sloan, Frank A., 2000. "Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?," Working Papers 00-15, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    15. Sloan, Frank A & Norton, Edward C, 1997. "Adverse Selection, Bequests, Crowding Out, and Private Demand for Insurance: Evidence from the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 201-19, December.
    16. Alma Cohen, 2005. "Asymmetric Information and Learning: Evidence from the Automobile Insurance Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 197-207, May.
    17. Puelz, Robert & Snow, Arthur, 1994. "Evidence on Adverse Selection: Equilibrium Signaling and Cross-Subsidization in the Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 236-57, April.
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