Community rating and the market for private non-group health insurance
Prior research on adverse selection in health insurance markets has found only mixed evidence for adverse selection in group settings. We examine the impact of state community rating regulations enacted in the 1990s, which greatly limited insurers' ability to risk rate premiums, to determine if adverse selection is more evident in non-group insurance markets. Using data from large, national surveys we find evidence of a shift to a less healthy pool of non-group enrollees as a consequence of community rating. Community rating made healthy people 20 to 60% less likely to be insured by non-group health insurance; in addition, we found evidence that young and healthy people were 20 to 30% more likely to be uninsured as a result of community rating. We also find evidence that individuals in poor health were 35 to 50% more likely to be insured in the non-group market, but only limited evidence suggesting that persons in poor health were less likely to be uninsured. Our results are further supported by findings suggesting that non-group enrollees were sicker as a result of the community rating laws. Lastly, we find evidence suggesting that HMO penetration in the non-group market increased disproportionately in states that implemented community rating relative to states that did not.
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