IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Estimating Welfare in Insurance Markets Using Variation in Prices

  • Liran Einav

    (Stanford University and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

  • Amy Finkelstein

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

  • Mark R. Cullen

    (Stanford University.)

We provide a graphical illustration of how standard consumer and producer theory can be used to quantify the welfare loss associated with inefficient pricing in insurance markets with selection. We then show how this welfare loss can be estimated empirically using identifying variation in the price of insurance. Such variation, together with quantity data, allows us to estimate the demand for insurance. The same variation, together with cost data, allows us to estimate how insurers' costs vary as market participants endogenously respond to price. The slope of this estimated cost curve provides a direct test for both the existence and the nature of selection, and the combination of demand and cost curves can be used to estimate welfare. We illustrate our approach by applying it to data on employer-provided health insurance from one specific company. We detect adverse selection but estimate that the quantitative welfare implications associated with inefficient pricing in our particular application are small, in both absolute and relative terms. (c) 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1162/qjec.2010.125.3.877
File Function: link to full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 125 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 877-921

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:3:p:877-921
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

Order Information: Web: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journal-home.tcl?issn=00335533

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. John Cawley & Tomas Philipson, 1996. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," NBER Working Papers 5669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Optimal Taxation and Social Insurance with Endogenous Private Insurance," NBER Chapters, in: Income Taxation, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 85-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. De Meza, D. & Webb, D.C., 2000. "Advantageous Selection in Insurance Market," Discussion Papers 0007, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  4. Jaap H. Abbring & Pierre-Andre Chiappori, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Dynamic Insurance Data," 2004 Meeting Papers 316, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. James M. Poterba, 1994. "Government Intervention in the Markets for Education and Health Care: How and Why?," NBER Working Papers 4916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  7. Einav, Liran & Finkelstein, Amy & Levin, Jonathan, 2009. "Beyond Testing: Empirical Models of Insurance Markets," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt90g407hf, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. 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.
  9. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, 04.
  10. David M. Cutler & Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2008. "Preference Heterogeneity and Insurance Markets: Explaining a Puzzle of Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 157-62, May.
  11. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  12. William Adams & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2007. "Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending," NBER Working Papers 13067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-77, June.
  14. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 1997. "Testing for Asymmetric Information in Insurance Markets," Working Papers 97-11, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  15. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  16. Fang, Hanming & Keane, Michael & Silverman, Dan, 2006. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Working Papers 17, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  17. repec:hal:journl:hal-00397121 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:783-798 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Jonathan Gruber, 2002. "Taxes and Health Insurance," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 16, pages 37-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Thomas Buchmueller & John Dinardo, 2002. "Did Community Rating Induce an Adverse Selection Death Spiral? Evidence from New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 280-294, March.
  21. David M. Cutler & Sarah J. Reber, 1998. "Paying For Health Insurance: The Trade-Off Between Competition And Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 433-466, May.
  22. Pierre‐André Chiappori & Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 2006. "Asymmetric information in insurance: general testable implications," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 783-798, December.
  23. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 2000. "Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets: Policyholder Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 8045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Lustig, Joshua, 2008. "The Welfare Effects of Adverse Selection in Privatized Medicare," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7n09099j, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  25. David A. Wise, 1998. "Introduction to "Inquiries in the Economics of Aging"," NBER Chapters, in: Inquiries in the Economics of Aging, pages 1-15 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Working Papers 911, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  27. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  28. Alma Cohen & Liran Einav, 2005. "Estimating Risk Preferences from Deductible Choice," NBER Working Papers 11461, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "The Causes and Consequences of the Dependence of Quality on Price," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 1-48, March.
  30. Levon Barseghyan & Jeffrey Prince & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2011. "Are Risk Preferences Stable across Contexts? Evidence from Insurance Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 591-631, April.
  31. 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.
  32. Greenwald, Bruce C & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-64, May.
  33. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Paul Schrimpf, 2007. "The Welfare Cost of Asymmetric Information: Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 13228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. M. Kate Bundorf & Kosali I. Simon, 2006. "The Effects of Rate Regulation on Demand for Supplemental Health Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 67-71, May.
  35. Chernew, Michael & Gowrisankaran, Gautam & Scanlon, Dennis P., 2008. "Learning and the value of information: Evidence from health plan report cards," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 156-174, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:3:p:877-921. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anna Pollock-Nelson)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.