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Switching costs in competitive health insurance markets: The role of insurers' pricing strategies

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  • Karine Lamiraud
  • Pierre Stadelmann

Abstract

Our article deals with pricing strategies in Swiss health insurance markets and focuses on the relationship between basic and supplementary insurance. We analyzed how firms' pricing strategies (i.e., pricing of basic and supplementary products) can create switching costs in basic health insurance markets, thereby preventing competition in basic insurance from working properly. More specifically, using unique market and survey data, we investigated whether firms use bundling strategies or supplementary products as low‐price products to attract and retain basic insurance consumers. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to analyze these pricing strategies in the context of insurance/health insurance. We found no evidence of bundling in the Swiss setting. We did however observe that firms used low‐price supplementary products that contributed to lock in consumers. A majority of firms offered at least one of such product at a low price. None offered low‐price products in both basic and supplementary markets. Low‐price insurance products differed across firms. When buying a low‐price supplementary product, consumers always bought their basic contract from the same firm. Furthermore, those who opted for low‐price supplementary products were less likely to declare an intention to switch basic insurance firms in the near future. This result was true for all risk category levels.

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  • Karine Lamiraud & Pierre Stadelmann, 2020. "Switching costs in competitive health insurance markets: The role of insurers' pricing strategies," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(9), pages 992-1012, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:29:y:2020:i:9:p:992-1012
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.4111
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 21st September 2020
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2020-09-21 11:00:06

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    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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