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Estimating Welfare in Insurance Markets Using Variation in Prices

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Author Info

  • Mark Cullen

    (Stanford University)

  • Liran Einav

    ()
    (Stanford University)

  • Amy Finkelstein

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Bureau of Economic Research)

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    Abstract

    We show how standard consumer and producer theory can be used to estimate welfare in insurance markets with selection. The key observation is that the same price variation needed to identify the demand curve also identifies how costs vary as market participants endogenously respond to price. With estimates of both the demand and cost curves, welfare analysis is straight forward. We illustrate our approach by applying it to the employee health insurance choices at Alcoa, Inc. We detect adverse selection in this setting but estimate that its quantitative welfare implications are small, and not obviously remediable by standard public policy tools.

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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/08-006.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-006.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:08-006

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    Related research

    Keywords: asymmetric information; adverse selection; health insurance; effciency cost;

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    References

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    1. 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.
    2. Tomas Philipson & John Cawley, 1999. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 827-846, September.
    3. Jaap H. Abbring & Pierre-André Chiappori & Jean Pinquet, 2003. "Moral Hazard and Dynamic Insurance Data," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 767-820, 06.
    4. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 2000. "Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets: Policyholder Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 8045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Fang, Hanming & Keane, Michael & Silverman, Dan, 2006. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Working Papers 17, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    6. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, 04.
    7. De Meza, D. & Webb, D.C., 2000. "Advantageous Selection in Insurance Market," Discussion Papers 0007, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    8. David M. Cutler & Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2008. "Preference Heterogeneity and Insurance Markets: Explaining a Puzzle of Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 157-62, May.
    9. Thomas Buchmueller & John Dinardo, 2002. "Did Community Rating Induce an Adverse Selection Death Spiral? Evidence from New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 280-294, March.
    10. Chernew, Michael & Gowrisankaran, Gautam & Scanlon, Dennis P., 2008. "Learning and the value of information: Evidence from health plan report cards," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 156-174, May.
    11. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Salanie, 2000. "Testing for Asymmetric Information in Insurance Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 56-78, February.
    12. William Adams & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2007. "Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending," NBER Working Papers 13067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:783-798 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. M. Kate Bundorf & Kosali I. Simon, 2006. "The Effects of Rate Regulation on Demand for Supplemental Health Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 67-71, May.
    15. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
    16. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-77, June.
    17. Pierre‐André Chiappori & Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 2006. "Asymmetric information in insurance: general testable implications," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 783-798, December.
    18. Lustig, Joshua, 2008. "The Welfare Effects of Adverse Selection in Privatized Medicare," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7n09099j, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    19. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
    20. David A. Wise, 1998. "Introduction to "Inquiries in the Economics of Aging"," NBER Chapters, in: Inquiries in the Economics of Aging, pages 1-15 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Paul Schrimpf, 2007. "The Welfare Cost of Asymmetric Information: Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 13228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Einav, Liran & Finkelstein, Amy & Levin, Jonathan, 2009. "Beyond Testing: Empirical Models of Insurance Markets," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt90g407hf, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    2. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Sufficient Statistics for Welfare Analysis: A Bridge Between Structural and Reduced-Form Methods," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 451-488, 05.
    3. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Optimal Taxation and Social Insurance with Endogenous Private Insurance," NBER Chapters, in: Income Taxation, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 85-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rahkovsky, Ilya, 2010. "Exclusive contracts in health insurance," MPRA Paper 27473, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Amy Finkelstein, 2011. "Comment on "The Demand for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage: Evidence from Four Waves of the Retirement Perspectives Survey"," NBER Chapters, in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 182-185 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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