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The Effect of State Community Rating Regulations on Premiums and Coverage in the Individual Health Insurance Market

  • Bradley Herring
  • Mark V. Pauly

Some states have implemented community rating regulations to limit the extent to which premiums in the individual health insurance market can vary with a person?s health status. Community rating and guaranteed issues laws were passed with hopes of increasing access to affordable insurance for people with high-risk health conditions, but there are concerns that these laws led to adverse selection. In some sense, the extent to which these regulations ultimately affected the individual market depends in large part on the degree of risk segmentation in unregulated states. In this paper, we examine the relationship between expected medical expenses, individual insurance premiums, and the likelihood of obtaining individual insurance using data from both the National Health Interview Survey and the Community Tracking Study Household Survey. We test for differences in these relationships between states with both community rating and guaranteed issue and states with no such regulations. While we find that people living in unregulated states with higher expected expense due to chronic health conditions pay modestly higher premiums and are somewhat less likely to obtain coverage, the variation between premiums and risk in unregulated individual insurance markets is far from proportional; there is considerable pooling. In regulated states, we find that there is no effect of having higher expected expense due to chronic health conditions on neither premiums nor coverage. Overall, our results suggest that the effect of regulation is to produce a slight increase in the proportion uninsured, as increases in low risk uninsureds more than offset decreases in high risk uninsureds. Community rating and guaranteed issue regulations produce only small changes in risk pooling because the extent of pooling in the absence of regulation is substantial.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12504.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12504
Note: HC HE
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  1. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  2. Thomas Buchmueller & John DiNardo, 1999. "Did Community Rating Induce an Adverse Selection Death Spiral? Evidencefrom New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut," NBER Working Papers 6872, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. repec:mpr:mprres:4922 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. S. Baranzoni & P. Bianchi & L. Lambertini, 2000. "Market Structure," Working Papers 368, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  5. Willard G. Manning & John Mullahy, 1999. "Estimating Log Models: To Transform or Not to Transform?," NBER Technical Working Papers 0246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Frick, Kevin D, 1998. "Consumer Capital Market Constraints and Guaranteed Renewable Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 271-78, July-Aug..
  7. Davidoff, Amy & Blumberg, Linda & Nichols, Len, 2005. "State health insurance market reforms and access to insurance for high-risk employees," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 725-750, July.
  8. Herring, Bradley & Pauly, Mark V., 2006. "Incentive-compatible guaranteed renewable health insurance premiums," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 395-417, May.
  9. 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.
  10. Herring, Bradley, 2005. "The effect of the availability of charity care to the uninsured on the demand for private health insurance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 225-252, March.
  11. Bundorf, M. Kate & Pauly, Mark V., 2006. "Is health insurance affordable for the uninsured?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 650-673, July.
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