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Private Information and Insurance Rejections

  • Nathaniel Hendren

Across a wide set of non-group insurance markets, applicants are rejected based on observable, often high-risk, characteristics. This paper argues private information, held by the potential applicant pool, explains rejections. I formulate this argument by developing and testing a model in which agents may have private information about their risk. I first derive a new no-trade result that theoretically explains how private information could cause rejections. I then develop a new empirical methodology to test whether this no-trade condition can explain rejections. The methodology uses subjective probability elicitations as noisy measures of agents beliefs. I apply this approach to three non-group markets: long-term care, disability, and life insurance. Consistent with the predictions of the theory, in all three settings I find significant amounts of private information held by those who would be rejected; I find generally more private information for those who would be rejected relative to those who can purchase insurance; and I show it is enough private information to explain a complete absence of trade for those who would be rejected. The results suggest private information prevents the existence of large segments of these three major insurance markets.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18282.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18282.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Publication status: published as Nathaniel Hendren, 2013. "Private Information and Insurance Rejections," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(5), pages 1713-1762, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18282
Note: AG HC HE IO PE
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  1. Einav, Liran & Finkelstein, Amy & Levin, Jonathan, 2009. "Beyond Testing: Empirical Models of Insurance Markets," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt90g407hf, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 2004. "Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets: Policyholder Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 183-208, February.
  3. Jeffrey R. Brown & Amy Finkelstein, 2008. "The Interaction of Public and Private Insurance: Medicaid and the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1083-1102, June.
  4. Alma Cohen & Peter Siegelman, 2009. "Testing for Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets," NBER Working Papers 15586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2006. "Multiple Dimensions of Private Information: Evidence from the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 938-958, September.
  6. John Bound & Julie Berry Cullen & Austin Nichols & Lucie Schmidt, 2002. "The Welfare Implications of Increasing Disability Insurance Benefit Generosity," NBER Working Papers 9155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Newey, Whitney K., 1997. "Convergence rates and asymptotic normality for series estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 147-168, July.
  8. John G. Riley, 1976. "Informational Equilibrium," UCLA Economics Working Papers 071, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Hanming Fang & Michael P. Keane & Dan Silverman, 2008. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 303-350, 04.
  10. David M. Cutler & Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2008. "Preference Heterogeneity and Insurance Markets: Explaining a Puzzle of Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 157-62, May.
  11. John Cawley & Tomas Philipson, 1996. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," NBER Working Papers 5669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 2002. "Asymmetric Information in Insurance : General Testable Implications," Working Papers 2002-42, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  13. Hector Chade & Edward Schlee, 2008. "Optimal Insurance with Adverse Selection," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002175, David K. Levine.
  14. George J. Mailath & Georg Noldeke, 2007. "Does Competitive Pricing Cause Market Breakdown under Extreme Adverse Selection?," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-022, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  15. He, Daifeng, 2009. "The life insurance market: Asymmetric information revisited," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1090-1097, October.
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