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Consumer Inertia and Firm Pricing in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Insurance Exchange

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  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson

Abstract

I use the Medicare Part D prescription drug insurance market to examine the dynamics of firm interaction with consumers on an insurance exchange. Enrollment data show that consumers face switching frictions leading to inertia in plan choice, and a regression discontinuity design indicates initial defaults have persistent effects. In the absence of commitment to future prices, theory predicts firms respond to inertia by raising prices on existing enrollees, while introducing cheaper alternative plans. The complete set of enrollment and price data from 2006 through 2010 confirms this prediction: older plans have approximately 10 percent higher premiums than comparable new plans.

Suggested Citation

  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2014. "Consumer Inertia and Firm Pricing in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Insurance Exchange," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 38-64, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:6:y:2014:i:1:p:38-64 Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.6.1.38
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Darius Lakdawalla & Wesley Yin, 2015. "Insurers’ Negotiating Leverage and the External Effects of Medicare Part D," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 314-331, May.
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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
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics

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