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Do health plans risk-select? An audit study on Germany's Social Health Insurance

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  • Bauhoff, Sebastian

Abstract

This paper evaluates whether health plans in Germany's Social Health Insurance select on an easily observable predictor of risk: geography. To identify plan behavior separately from concurrent demand-side adverse selection, I implement a double-blind audit study in which plans are contacted by fictitious applicants from different locations. I find that plans are less likely to respond and follow-up with applicants from higher-cost regions, such as West Germany. The results suggest that supply-side selection may emerge even in heavily regulated insurance markets. The prospect of risk selection by firms has implications for studies of demand-side selection and regulatory policy in these settings.

Suggested Citation

  • Bauhoff, Sebastian, 2012. "Do health plans risk-select? An audit study on Germany's Social Health Insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 750-759.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:9:p:750-759
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2012.05.011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. van de Ven, Wynand P.M.M. & Beck, Konstantin & Van de Voorde, Carine & Wasem, Jurgen & Zmora, Irit, 2007. "Risk adjustment and risk selection in Europe: 6 years later," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(2-3), pages 162-179, October.
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    4. Shen, Yujing & Ellis, Randall P., 2002. "Cost-minimizing risk adjustment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 515-530, May.
    5. Höppner, Karin & Greß, Stefan & Rothgang, Heinz & Wasem, Jürgen & Braun, Bernard & Buitkamp, Martin, 2005. "Grenzen und Dysfunktionalitäten des Kassenwettbewerbs in der GKV: Theorie und Empirie der Risikolektion in Deutschland," Working papers of the ZeS 04/2005, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).
    6. Cutler, David M. & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 2000. "The anatomy of health insurance," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 563-643 Elsevier.
    7. Hanming Fang & Michael P. Keane & Dan Silverman, 2008. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 303-350, April.
    8. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 2014. "Testing for Asymmetric Information Using “Unused Observables” in Insurance Markets: Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 81(4), pages 709-734, December.
    9. Nicola Brandt, 2008. "Moving Towards more Sustainable Healthcare Financing in Germany," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 612, OECD Publishing.
    10. Pauly, Mark V., 1984. "Is cream-skimming a problem for the competitive medical market?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 87-95, April.
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    12. 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.
    13. Frank, Richard G. & Glazer, Jacob & McGuire, Thomas G., 2000. "Measuring adverse selection in managed health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 829-854, November.
    14. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1996. "Reimbursing Health Plans and Health Providers: Efficiency in Production versus Selection," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1236-1263, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Wuppermann, Amelie C. & Bauhoff, Sebastian & Grabka, Markus M., 2014. "The Price Sensitivity of Health Plan Choice: Evidence from Retirees in the German Social Health Insurance," Discussion Papers in Economics 21080, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    3. Normann Lorenz, 2014. "The interaction of direct and indirect risk selection," Research Papers in Economics 2014-12, University of Trier, Department of Economics.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Sebastian Panthöfer, 2016. "Risk Selection under Public Health Insurance with Opt‐Out," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(9), pages 1163-1181, September.
    7. repec:spr:eujhec:v:18:y:2017:i:9:d:10.1007_s10198-016-0859-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Richard van Kleef & Thomas McGuire & Rene van Vliet & Wynand van de Ven, 2015. "Improving Risk Equalization with Constrained Regression," NBER Working Papers 21570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Ilyana Kuziemko & Katherine Meckel & Maya Rossin-Slater, 2013. "Do Insurers Risk-Select Against Each Other? Evidence from Medicaid and Implications for Health Reform," NBER Working Papers 19198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jan Brosse & Mathias Kifmann, 2013. "Competition in Health Insurance and Premium Regulation," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 11(1), pages 21-26, 04.
    11. repec:ces:ifodic:v:11:y:2013:i:1:p:19083487 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Lorenz, Normann, 2015. "The interaction of direct and indirect risk selection," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 81-89.
    13. repec:zbw:rwirep:0545 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Aizawa, Naoki & Kim, You Suk, 2015. "Advertising and Risk Selection in Health Insurance Markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2015-101, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    15. Wynand P. M. M. Ven & René C. J. A. Vliet & Richard C. Kleef, 2017. "How can the regulator show evidence of (no) risk selection in health insurance markets? Conceptual framework and empirical evidence," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 18(2), pages 167-180, March.
    16. Wuppermann, Amelie & Bauhoff, Sebastian & Grabka, Markus, 2014. "The Price Sensitivity of Health Plan Choice among Retirees: Evidence from the German Social Health Insurance," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100352, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health insurance; Risk selection; Risk adjustment; Geographic variations; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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