The Welfare Impact of Reducing Choice in Medicare Part D: A Comparison of Two Regulation Strategies
Medicare’s prescription drug benefit (Part D) has been its largest expansion of benefits since 1965. Since the implementation of Part D, many regulatory proposals have been advanced in order to improve this government-created market. Among the most debated are proposals to limit the number of options, in response to concerns that there are “too many” plans. In this paper we study the welfare impact of two feasible approaches (of similar magnitude) toward limiting the number of Part D plans: reducing the maximum number of plans each firm can offer per region and removing plans that provide doughnut hole coverage. To this end, we propose and estimate a model of market equilibrium, which we later use to evaluate the impact of regulating down the number of Part D plans. Our counterfactuals provide an important assessment of the losses to consumers (and producers) resulting from government limitations on choice. These losses must be weighed against the widely discussed expected gains due to reduced search costs from limiting options. We find that the annual search costs should be at least two thirds of the average monthly premium in order to justify a regulation that allows only two plans per firm. However, this number would be substantially lower if the limitation in the number of plans is coupled with a decrease in product differentiation (e.g., by removing plans that cover the doughnut hole). For validation purposes, we also assess the impact of a recent major merger, and find that our model performs very well out of sample.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2009|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 1309 East Tenth Street, Room 451, Bloomington, IN 47405-1701|
Web page: http://kelley.iu.edu/bepp/
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Nevo, Aviv, 1998.
"Measuring Market Power in the Ready-To-Eat Cereal Industry,"
25164, University of Connecticut, Food Marketing Policy Center.
- Nevo, Aviv, 2001. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 307-42, March.
- Nevo, Aviv, 1999. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt7cm5p858, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Aviv Nevo, 1998. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," NBER Working Papers 6387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Nevo, Aviv, 1998. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-To-Eat Cereal Industry," Food Marketing Policy Center Research Reports 037, University of Connecticut, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.
- Aviv Nevo, 2003. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," Microeconomics 0303006, EconWPA.
- Heiss, Florian & McFadden, Daniel L. & Winter, Joachim, 2006. "Who failed to enroll in Medicare Part D, and why? Early results," Munich Reprints in Economics 19427, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Darius Lakdawalla & Neeraj Sood, 2007. "The Welfare Effects of Public Drug Insurance," NBER Working Papers 13501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
- Helen Levy & David Weir, 2007. "Take-Up of Medicare Part D and the SSA Subsidy: Early Results from the Health and Retirement Study," Working Papers wp163, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
- Aviv Nevo, 2000. "Mergers with Differentiated Products: The Case of the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(3), pages 395-421, Autumn.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2010-14. 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: (Rick Harbaugh)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.