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Pricing and Welfare in Health Plan Choice

Author

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  • M. Kate Bundorf
  • Jonathan Levin
  • Neale Mahoney

Abstract

Premiums in health insurance markets frequently do not reflect individual differences in costs, either because consumers have private information or because prices are not risk rated. This creates inefficiencies when consumers self-select into plans. We develop a simple econometric model to study this problem and estimate it using data on small employers. We find a welfare loss of 2-11 percent of coverage costs compared to what is feasible with risk rating. Only about one-quarter of this is due to inefficiently chosen uniform contribution levels. We also investigate the reclassification risk created by risk rating individual incremental premiums, finding only a modest welfare cost. (JEL G22, I13, I18)

Suggested Citation

  • M. Kate Bundorf & Jonathan Levin & Neale Mahoney, 2012. "Pricing and Welfare in Health Plan Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3214-3248, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:7:p:3214-48
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.7.3214
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. David M. Cutler & Sarah J. Reber, 1998. "Paying for Health Insurance: The Trade-Off between Competition and Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 433-466.
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    5. Pauly, Mark V. & Herring, Bradley J., 2000. "An efficient employer strategy for dealing with adverse selection in multiple-plan offerings: an MSA example," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 513-528, July.
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    7. Small, Kenneth A & Rosen, Harvey S, 1981. "Applied Welfare Economics with Discrete Choice Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(1), pages 105-130, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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