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Very high and low residual spenders in private health insurance markets: Germany, The Netherlands and the U.S. Marketplaces

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas G. McGuire

    (Harvard Medical School)

  • Sonja Schillo

    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Richard C. Kleef

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

We study the extremely high and low residual spenders in individual health insurance markets in three countries. A high (low) residual spender is someone for whom the residual—spending less payment (from premiums and risk adjustment)—is high (low), indicating that the person is highly underpaid (overpaid). We begin with descriptive analysis of the top and bottom 1% and 0.1% of residuals building to address the question of the degree of persistence in membership at the extremes. Common findings emerge among the countries. First, the diseases found among those with the highest residual spending are also disproportionately found among those with the lowest residual spending. Second, those at the top of the residual spending distribution (where spending exceeds payments the most) account for a massively high share of the unexplained variance in the predictions from the risk adjustment model. Third, in terms of persistence, we find that membership in the extremes of the residual spending distribution is highly persistent, raising concerns about selection-related incentives targeting these individuals. As our results show, the one-in-a-thousand people (on both sides of the residual distribution) play an outsized role in creating adverse incentives associated with health plan payment systems. In response to the observed importance of the extremes of the residual spending distribution, we propose an innovative combination of risk-pooling and reinsurance targeting the predictively undercompensated group. In all three countries, this form of risk sharing substantially improves the overall fit of payments to spending. Perhaps surprisingly, by reducing the burden on diagnostic indicators to predict high payments, our proposed risk sharing policy reduces the gap between payments and spending not only for the most undercompensated individuals but also for the most overcompensated people.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas G. McGuire & Sonja Schillo & Richard C. Kleef, 2021. "Very high and low residual spenders in private health insurance markets: Germany, The Netherlands and the U.S. Marketplaces," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 22(1), pages 35-50, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:eujhec:v:22:y:2021:i:1:d:10.1007_s10198-020-01227-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s10198-020-01227-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eric French & Elaine Kelly & Pieter Bakx & Owen O'Donnell & Eddy Doorslaer, 2016. "Spending on Health Care in the Netherlands: Not Going So Dutch," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 37, pages 593-625, September.
    2. Layton, Timothy J. & McGuire, Thomas G. & van Kleef, Richard C., 2018. "Deriving risk adjustment payment weights to maximize efficiency of health insurance markets," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 93-110.
    3. Kauer, Lukas & McGuire, Thomas G. & Beck, Konstantin, 2020. "Extreme under and overcompensation in morbidity-based health plan payments: The case of Switzerland," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 61-68.
    4. Eric French & Elaine Kelly & Martin Karlsson & Tobias J. Klein & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2016. "Skewed, Persistent and High before Death: Medical Spending in Germany," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 37, pages 527-559, September.
    5. Thomas G. McGuire & Sonja Schillo & Richard C. van Kleef, 2020. "Reinsurance, Repayments, and Risk Adjustment in Individual Health Insurance," American Journal of Health Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 139-168.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Rita Faria’s journal round-up for 8th February 2021
      by Rita Faria in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2021-02-08 12:00:01

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health insurance; Risk selection; Risk adjustment; Risk sharing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private

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