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

  • Chernew, Michael
  • Gowrisankaran, Gautam
  • Scanlon, Dennis P.
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    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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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Econometrics.

    Volume (Year): 144 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1 (May)
    Pages: 156-174

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:144:y:2008:i:1:p:156-174
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    1. Jin, Ginger Zhe & Sorensen, Alan T., 2006. "Information and consumer choice: The value of publicized health plan ratings," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 248-275, March.
    2. Steven T. Berry, 1994. "Estimating Discrete-Choice Models of Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 242-262, Summer.
    3. John F. Geweke & Gautam Gowrisankaran & Robert J. Town, 2002. "Bayesian inference for hospital quality in a selection model," Working Paper Series 2002-18, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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    5. Gregory S. Crawford & Matthew Shum, 2005. "Uncertainty and Learning in Pharmaceutical Demand," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1137-1173, 07.
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    7. Cardell, N. Scott, 1997. "Variance Components Structures for the Extreme-Value and Logistic Distributions with Application to Models of Heterogeneity," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(02), pages 185-213, April.
    8. Daniel A. Ackerberg, 2003. "Advertising, learning, and consumer choice in experience good markets: an empirical examination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(3), pages 1007-1040, 08.
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    12. Buchmueller, Thomas C. & Feldstein, Paul J., 1997. "The effect of price on switching among health plans," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 231-247, April.
    13. Wedig, Gerard J. & Tai-Seale, Ming, 2002. "The effect of report cards on consumer choice in the health insurance market," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 1031-1048, November.
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    15. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1989. "Imperfect information in the product market," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 769-847 Elsevier.
    16. Anne Beeson Royalty & Neil Solomon, 1999. "Health Plan Choice: Price Elasticities in a Managed Competition Setting," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-41.
    17. Beaulieu, Nancy Dean, 2002. "Quality information and consumer health plan choices," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 43-63, January.
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    19. McClellan, Mark & Cutler, David & Newhous, Joseph P., 2000. "How Does Managed Care Do It?," Scholarly Articles 2643884, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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