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Introducing risk adjustment and free health plan choice in employer-based health insurance: Evidence from Germany

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  • Pilny, Adam
  • Wübker, Ansgar
  • Ziebarth, Nicolas R.

Abstract

To equalize differences in health plan premiums due to differences in risk pools, the German legislature introduced a simple Risk Adjustment Scheme (RAS) based on age, gender and disability status in 1994. In addition, effective 1996, consumers gained the freedom to choose among hundreds of existing health plans, across employers and state-borders. This paper (a) estimates RAS pass-through rates on premiums, financial reserves, and expenditures and assesses the overall RAS impact on market price dispersion. Moreover, it (b) characterizes health plan switchers and investigates their annual and cumulative switching rates over time. Our main findings are based on representative enrollee panel data linked to administrative RAS and health plan data. We show that sickness funds with bad risk pools and high pre-RAS premiums lowered their total premiums by 42 cents per additional euro allocated by the RAS. Consequently, post-RAS, health plan prices converged but not fully. Because switchers are more likely to be white collar, young and healthy, the new consumer choice resulted in more risk segregation and the amount of money redistributed by the RAS increased over time.

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  • Pilny, Adam & Wübker, Ansgar & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "Introducing risk adjustment and free health plan choice in employer-based health insurance: Evidence from Germany," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 330-351.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:56:y:2017:i:c:p:330-351
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.03.009
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    Cited by:

    1. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "The pros and cons of sick pay schemes: Testing for contagious presenteeism and noncontagious absenteeism behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 14-33.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    D12; H51; I11; I13; I18; Employer-based health insurance; Free health plan choice; Risk adjustment; Health plan switching; Adverse selection; German sickness funds; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • 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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