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Risk adjustment in health insurance and its long-term effectiveness

  • Beck, Konstantin
  • Trottmann, Maria
  • Zweifel, Peter
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    This paper seeks to create new insights when judging the impact different risk adjustment schemes may have on the incentive to select risks. It distinguishes risk types with high and low profit potential and estimates long-run profits associated with risk selection in four scenarios (no risk adjustment, demographic only, including prior hospitalization, and including prior hospitalization and Pharmaceutical Cost Groups). The database covers 180,000 Swiss individuals over 8 years, 3 of which are used for model building and 5, to estimate insurers' profits due to risk selection in the four scenarios. While these profits prove to be very high without risk adjustment and still substantial with demographic risk adjustment, they become surprisingly low when the crude morbidity indicator 'prior hospitalization' is included in the formula. These results clearly indicate the need for health status-related risk adjustment in insurance markets with community rating, taking into account insurers' planning horizon.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 (July)
    Pages: 489-498

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:29:y:2010:i:4:p:489-498
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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    1. Pauly, Mark & Nickel, Andreas & Kunreuther, Howard, 1998. "Guaranteed Renewability with Group Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 211-21, July-Aug..
    2. Peter Zweifel & Stefan Felder & Andreas Werblow, 2004. "Population Ageing and Health Care Expenditure: New Evidence on the “Red Herring”," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 29(4), pages 652-666, October.
    3. Zweifel, Peter & Breuer, Michael, 2006. "The case for risk-based premiums in public health insurance," Health Economics, Policy and Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 171-188, April.
    4. Newhouse, Joseph P., 1982. "Is competition the answer?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 109-116, May.
    5. Manning, Willard G. & Mullahy, John, 2001. "Estimating log models: to transform or not to transform?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 461-494, July.
    6. Yujing Shen & Randall P. Ellis, 2002. "How profitable is risk selection? A comparison of four risk adjustment models," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(2), pages 165-174.
    7. Duan, Naihua, et al, 1983. "A Comparison of Alternative Models for the Demand for Medical Care," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 1(2), pages 115-26, April.
    8. Erik van Barneveld & Leida Lamers & René van Vliet & Wynand van de Ven, 2000. "Ignoring small predictable profits and losses: a new approach for measuring incentives for cream skimming," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 131-140, February.
    9. Van de ven, Wynand P.M.M. & Ellis, Randall P., 2000. "Risk adjustment in competitive health plan markets," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 755-845 Elsevier.
    10. Zweifel, Peter, 2007. "The Theory of Social Health Insurance," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 3(3), pages 183-273, May.
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