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Welfare costs of reclassification risk in the health insurance market

Author

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  • Pashchenko, Svetlana

    () (Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies)

  • Porapakkarm, Ponpoje

    () (University of Macau)

Abstract

One of the major problems of the U.S. health insurance market is that it leaves individuals exposed to reclassification risk. Reclassification risk arises because the health conditions of individuals evolve over time, while a typical health insurance contract only lasts for one year. A change in the health status can lead to a significant change in the health insurance premium. We study how costly this reclassification risk is for the welfare of consumers. More specifically, we use a general equilibrium model to quantify the implications of introducing guaranteed renewable contracts into the economy calibrated to replicate the key features of the health insurance system in the U.S. Guaranteed renewable contracts are private insurance contracts that can provide protection against reclassification risk even in the absence of consumer commitment or government intervention. We find that though guaranteed renewable contracts provide a good insurance against reclassification risk, the welfare effects from introducing this type of contracts are small. In other words, the presence of reclassification risk does not impose large welfare losses on consumers. This happens because some institutional features in the current U.S. system substitute for the missing explicit contracts that insure reclassification risk. In particular, a good protection against reclassification risk is provided through employer-sponsored health insurance and government means-tested transfers.

Suggested Citation

  • Pashchenko, Svetlana & Porapakkarm, Ponpoje, 2011. "Welfare costs of reclassification risk in the health insurance market," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2011:13, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uufswp:2011_013
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hansen, Gary D. & Hsu, Minchung & Lee, Junsang, 2014. "Health insurance reform: The impact of a Medicare buy-in," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 315-329.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Reclassification risk in health insurance
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-01-18 21:28:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Svetlana Pashchenko & Ponpoje Porapakkarm, 2016. "Cross-Subsidization in Employer-Based Health Insurance and the Effects of Tax Subsidy Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 69(3), pages 583-612, September.
    2. Svetlana Pashchenko & Ponpoje (Poe) Porapakkarm & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2017. "The Lifetime Costs of Bad Health," 2017 Meeting Papers 533, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. repec:eee:dyncon:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:126-153 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ferreira, Pedro Cavalcanti & Gomes, Diego B.P., 2017. "Health care reform or more affordable health care?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 126-153.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    health insurance; reclassification risk; dynamic insurance; guaranteed renewable contracts; general equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets
    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets

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