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How Much Favorable Selection Is Left in Medicare Advantage?

Author

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  • Joseph P. Newhouse

    () (Harvard Medical School, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, and National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Mary Price

    (Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital)

  • John Hsu

    (Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital)

  • J. Michael McWilliams

    () (Harvard Medical School)

  • Thomas G. McGuire

    () (Harvard Medical School and the National Bureau of Economic Research)

Abstract

The health economics literature contains two models of selection, one with endogenous plan characteristics to attract good risks and one with fixed plan characteristics; neither model contains a regulator. Medicare Advantage, a principal example of selection in the literature, is, however, subject to anti-selection regulations. Because selection causes economic inefficiency and because the historically favorable selection into Medicare Advantage plans increased government cost, the effectiveness of the anti-selection regulations is an important policy question, especially since the Medicare Advantage program has grown to comprise 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries. Moreover, similar anti-selection regulations are being used in health insurance exchanges for those under 65. Contrary to earlier work, we show that the strengthened anti-selection regulations that Medicare introduced starting in 2004 markedly reduced government overpayment attributable to favorable selection in Medicare Advantage. At least some of the remaining selection is plausibly related to fixed plan characteristics of Traditional Medicare versus Medicare Advantage rather than changed selection strategies by Medicare Advantage plans. © 2015 American Society of Health Economists and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph P. Newhouse & Mary Price & John Hsu & J. Michael McWilliams & Thomas G. McGuire, 2015. "How Much Favorable Selection Is Left in Medicare Advantage?," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 1-26, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:amjhec:v:1:y:2015:i:1:p:1-26
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jason Brown & Mark Duggan & Ilyana Kuziemko & William Woolston, 2014. "How Does Risk Selection Respond to Risk Adjustment? New Evidence from the Medicare Advantage Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(10), pages 3335-3364, October.
    2. Thomas G. McGuire & Jacob Glazer, 2000. "Optimal Risk Adjustment in Markets with Adverse Selection: An Application to Managed Care," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1055-1071, September.
    3. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2002. "Competitive Pooling: Rothschild-Stiglitz Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1529-1570.
    4. McGuire, Thomas G. & Glazer, Jacob & Newhouse, Joseph P. & Normand, Sharon-Lise & Shi, Julie & Sinaiko, Anna D. & Zuvekas, Samuel H., 2013. "Integrating risk adjustment and enrollee premiums in health plan payment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1263-1277.
    5. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    6. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein, 2011. "Selection in Insurance Markets: Theory and Empirics in Pictures," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 115-138, Winter.
    7. David M. Cutler & Sarah J. Reber, 1998. "Paying for Health Insurance: The Trade-Off between Competition and Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 433-466.
    8. Cao, Zhun & McGuire, Thomas G., 2003. "Service-level selection by HMOs in Medicare," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 915-931, November.
    9. Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2006. "Multiple Dimensions of Private Information: Evidence from the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 938-958, September.
    10. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Mark R. Cullen, 2010. "Estimating Welfare in Insurance Markets Using Variation in Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 877-921.
    11. McGuire, Thomas G. & Newhouse, Joseph P. & Normand, Sharon-Lise & Shi, Julie & Zuvekas, Samuel, 2014. "Assessing incentives for service-level selection in private health insurance exchanges," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 47-63.
    12. Michael Rothschild & Joseph Stiglitz, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 629-649.
    13. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph P. Newhouse & Mary Beth Landrum & Mary Price & J. Michael McWilliams & John Hsu & Thomas McGuire, 2018. "The Comparative Advantage of Medicare Advantage," NBER Working Papers 24289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Polyakova, Maria, 2016. "Risk selection and heterogeneous preferences in health insurance markets with a public option," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 153-168.
    3. Savannah L. Bergquist & Timothy J. Layton & Thomas G. McGuire & Sherri Rose, 2018. "Intervening on the Data to Improve the Performance of Health Plan Payment Methods," NBER Working Papers 24491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Katherine Baicker & Jacob A. Robbins, 2015. "Medicare Payments and System-Level Health-Care Use: The Spillover Effects of Medicare Managed Care," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 399-431, Fall.
    5. Jay Bhattacharya & Vilsa Curto & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2014. "Can Health Insurance Competition Work? Evidence from Medicare Advantage," Discussion Papers 14-015, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    6. Timothy J. Layton & Randall P. Ellis & Thomas G. McGuire, 2015. "Assessing Incentives for Adverse Selection in Health Plan Payment Systems," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series wp2015-024, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    7. Michael Geruso & Timothy J. Layton, 2017. "Selection in Health Insurance Markets and Its Policy Remedies," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 23-50, Fall.
    8. Sungchul Park & Anirban Basu & Norma Coe & Fahad Khalil, 2017. "Service-level Selection: Strategic Risk Selection in Medicare Advantage in Response to Risk Adjustment," NBER Working Papers 24038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    health economics; economic inefficiency; regulation; anti-selection regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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