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How Does Cost-Sharing Affect Drug Purchases? Insurance Regimes in the Private Market for Prescription Drugs

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  • Avi Dor
  • William Encinosa

Abstract

Insurance for prescription drugs is characterized by two types of cost-sharing: flat copayments and variable coinsurance. We develop a theoretical model to show that refill purchases of preventive drugs (compliance) are lower under coinsurance due to the consumer's exposure to variation in drug prices. Coinsurance creates countervailing incentives. Consumers who never comply under flat copayments might find it optimal to comply if they drew a relatively low price under coinsurance. In contrast, consumers who always comply under flat copayments might stop complying if they drew a relatively high price under coinsurance. Our theory shows the second effect dominates under certain distributional assumptions about health states. Empirically, we derive comparable models for compliance behavior in the two regimes. Using claims data from eight large firms, we focus our analysis on diabetes, a common chronic condition that leads to severe complications when not continuously treated with medications. Propensity score methods are used to create matched samples for the two insurance regimes. We find that when coinsurance and flat copayments have the same expected out-of-pocket of $9, at least 34% of patients under copayments would fully comply and refill their medication over the next 90 days, compared to only 24% under coinsurance. Similarly, under copayments, moving from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile of cost sharing results in a significantly lower shift into the non-compliance state compared with coinsurance. Thus, the empirical results confirm the main theoretical predictions. This research is a substantial revision and extension of our earlier 2004 NBER working paper no. 10738.

Suggested Citation

  • Avi Dor & William Encinosa, 2004. "How Does Cost-Sharing Affect Drug Purchases? Insurance Regimes in the Private Market for Prescription Drugs," NBER Working Papers 10738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10738
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10738.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 251-277, June.
    2. William H. Crown & Ernst R. Berndt & Onur Baser & Stan N. Finkelstein & Whitney P. Witt & Jonathan Maguire & Kenan E. Haver, 2004. "Benefit Plan Design and Prescription Drug Utilization Among Asthmatics: Do Patient Copayments Matter?," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in Health Policy Research, Volume 7, pages 95-128 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. David B. Ridley, 2015. "Payments, Promotion, And The Purple Pill," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(1), pages 86-103, January.
    4. Levy, H & Markowtiz, H M, 1979. "Approximating Expected Utility by a Function of Mean and Variance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 308-317, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alan M. Garber & Jonathan Skinner, 2008. "Is American Health Care Uniquely Inefficient?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 27-50, Fall.
    2. Martin Gaynor & Jian Li & William B. Vogt, 2006. "Is Drug Coverage a Free Lunch? Cross-Price Elasticities and the Design of Prescription Drug Benefits," NBER Working Papers 12758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lien, Hsien-Ming & Lu, Mingshan & Albert Ma, Ching-To & McGuire, Thomas G., 2010. "Progress and compliance in alcohol abuse treatment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 213-225, March.
    4. William Encinosa, 2009. "Value-based insurance design in medicare," Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 149-154, September.
    5. Randall D. Cebul & James B. Rebitzer & Lowell J. Taylor & Mark E. Votruba, 2008. "Organizational Fragmentation and Care Quality in the U.S. Healthcare System," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 93-113, Fall.
    6. Patrick Thiebaud & Bimal V. Patel & Michael B. Nichol, 2008. "The demand for statin: the effect of copay on utilization and compliance," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 83-97.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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