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Learning and the value of information: Evidence from health plan report cards


  • Chernew, Michael
  • Gowrisankaran, Gautam
  • Scanlon, Dennis P.


This paper develops a framework to analyze the value of information in the context of health plan choice. We use a Bayesian learning model to estimate the impact and value of information using data from a large employer, which started distributing health plan ratings to its employees in 1997. We estimate the parameters of the model with simulated maximum likelihood, and use the estimates to quantify the value of the report card information. We model both continuous specifications with Gaussian priors and signals, and discrete specifications with Beta priors and Binomial signals. We find that the release of information had a statistically significant effect on health plan choices. Consumers were willing to pay about $330 per year per below expected performance rating avoided, and the average value of the report card per employee was about $20 per year. We find large variation in valuations across different performance domains, but no significant evidence of heterogeneity based on observable employee characteristics or unobservable dimensions.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:144:y:2008:i:1:p:156-174

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Javdani Mohsen, 2015. "Noise or News? Learning about the Content of Test-Based School Achievement Measures," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(3), pages 1417-1453, July.
    2. Nathan Yang, 2011. "An Empirical Model of Industry Dynamics with Common Uncertainty and Learning from the Actions of Competitors," Working Papers 11-16, NET Institute.
    3. Leemore Dafny & Kate Ho & Mauricio Varela, 2013. "Let Them Have Choice: Gains from Shifting Away from Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance and toward an Individual Exchange," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 32-58, February.
    4. Wang, Justin & Hockenberry, Jason & Chou, Shin-Yi & Yang, Muzhe, 2011. "Do bad report cards have consequences? Impacts of publicly reported provider quality information on the CABG market in Pennsylvania," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 392-407, March.
    5. Jung, Kyoungrae & Feldman, Roger & Scanlon, Dennis, 2011. "Where would you go for your next hospitalization?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 832-841, July.
    6. repec:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/693394 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Daysal, N. Meltem & Orsini, Chiara, 2012. "Spillover Effects of Drug Safety Warnings on Health Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 6409, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. David Dranove & Ginger Zhe Jin, 2010. "Quality Disclosure and Certification: Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 935-963, December.
    9. Powell, Philip T. & Laufer, Ron, 2010. "The promises and constraints of consumer-directed healthcare," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 171-182, March.
    10. Bunnings, C,; & Schmitz, H,; & Tauchmann, H,; & Ziebarth, N.R,;, 2015. "How Health Plan Enrollees Value Prices Relative to Supplemental Benefits and Service Quality," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 15/02, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    11. Werner, Rachel M. & Norton, Edward C. & Konetzka, R. Tamara & Polsky, Daniel, 2012. "Do consumers respond to publicly reported quality information? Evidence from nursing homes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 50-61.
    12. Mark Cullen & Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein, 2008. "Estimating Welfare in Insurance Markets Using Variation in Prices," Discussion Papers 08-006, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    13. Gutacker, Nils & Siciliani, Luigi & Moscelli, Giuseppe & Gravelle, Hugh, 2016. "Choice of hospital: Which type of quality matters?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 230-246.
    14. Christian Bünnings & Hendrik Schmitz & Harald Tauchmann & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2015. "How Health Plan Enrollees Value Prices Relative to Supplemental Benefits and Service Quality," Ruhr Economic Papers 0545, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    15. repec:zbw:rwirep:0545 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Balat, Jorge & Papageorge, Nicholas W. & Qayyum, Shaiza, 2017. "Positively Aware? Conflicting Expert Reviews and Demand for Medical Treatment," IZA Discussion Papers 10919, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Andrew T. Ching & Tülin Erdem & Michael P. Keane, 2013. "Learning Models: An Assessment of Progress, Challenges and New Developments," Economics Papers 2013-W07, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    18. Michael Richards, 2012. "Using the economics of certification to improve the safety and quality of male circumcision in developing countries," Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 77-85, March.
    19. Michael Darden, 2017. "Smoking, Expectations, and Health: A Dynamic Stochastic Model of Lifetime Smoking Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(5), pages 1465-1522.
    20. Xiao, Mo, 2010. "Is quality accreditation effective? Evidence from the childcare market," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 708-721, November.
    21. Paul N. Thompson & Joseph Whitley, 2017. "The effect of school district and municipal government financial health information on local tax election outcomes: evidence from fiscal stress labels in Ohio," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 170(3), pages 265-288, March.

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