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Choice Inconsistencies among the Elderly: Evidence from Plan Choice in the Medicare Part D Program


  • Jason Abaluck
  • Jonathan Gruber


We evaluate the choices of elders across their insurance options under the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan, using a unique dataset of prescription drug claims matched to information on the characteristics of choice sets. We document that elders place much more weight on plan premiums than on expected out-of-pocket costs; value plan financial characteristics beyond any impacts on their own financial expenses or risk; and place almost no value on variance- reducing aspects of plans. Partial equilibrium welfare analysis implies that welfare would have been 27 percent higher if patients had all chosen rationally. (JEL D12, I11, J14)

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Abaluck & Jonathan Gruber, 2011. "Choice Inconsistencies among the Elderly: Evidence from Plan Choice in the Medicare Part D Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1180-1210, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:4:p:1180-1210

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination


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