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Tradeoffs in the Design of Health Plan Payment Systems: Fit, Power and Balance

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  • Michael Geruso
  • Thomas G. McGuire

Abstract

In many markets, including the new U.S. Exchanges, health insurance plans are paid by risk-adjusted capitation, in some markets combined with reinsurance and other payment mechanisms. This paper proposes three metrics for analyzing the insurer incentives embedded in these complex payment systems. We discuss fit, power and balance, each of which addresses a distinct market failure in health insurance. We implement these metrics in a study of Exchange payment systems with data similar to that used to develop the Exchange risk adjustment scheme and quantify the empirical tradeoffs among the metrics. We show that an essential tradeoff arises between the goals of limiting costs and limiting cream skimming because risk adjustment, which is aimed at discouraging cream-skimming, is in fact tied to costs. We find that a simple reinsurance system scores better on fit, power and balance than the risk adjustment scheme in use in the Exchanges.

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  • Michael Geruso & Thomas G. McGuire, 2014. "Tradeoffs in the Design of Health Plan Payment Systems: Fit, Power and Balance," NBER Working Papers 20359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20359
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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph P. Newhouse & Mary Beth Landrum & Mary Price & J. Michael McWilliams & John Hsu & Thomas G. McGuire, 2019. "The Comparative Advantage of Medicare Advantage," American Journal of Health Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(2), pages 281-301, Spring.
    2. Bijlsma, Michiel & Boone, Jan & Zwart, Gijsbert, 2017. "The complementarity between risk adjustment and community rating: Distorting market outcomes to facilitate redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 21-37.
    3. Pilny, Adam & Wübker, Ansgar & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "Introducing risk adjustment and free health plan choice in employer-based health insurance: Evidence from Germany," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 330-351.
    4. Schillo, Sonja & Lux, Gerald & Wasem, Juergen & Buchner, Florian, 2016. "High cost pool or high cost groups—How to handle high(est) cost cases in a risk adjustment mechanism?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 141-147.
    5. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson & Kimberley H. Geissler & Benjamin Lubin, 2018. "The Impact of Partial-Year Enrollment on the Accuracy of Risk-Adjustment Systems: A Framework and Evidence," American Journal of Health Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(4), pages 454-478, Fall.
    6. Benjamin R. Handel & Jonathan T. Kolstad & Johannes Spinnewijn, 2019. "Information Frictions and Adverse Selection: Policy Interventions in Health Insurance Markets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 326-340, May.
    7. Schmid, Christian P.R. & Beck, Konstantin, 2016. "Re-insurance in the Swiss health insurance market: Fit, power, and balance," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(7), pages 848-855.
    8. Michael Geruso & Timothy Layton, 2020. "Upcoding: Evidence from Medicare on Squishy Risk Adjustment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(3), pages 984-1026.
    9. Geruso, Michael & Layton, Timothy J. & McCormack, Grace & Shepard, Mark, 2019. "The Two Margin Problem in Insurance Markets," Working Paper Series rwp19-035, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    10. Thomas G. McGuire & Sonja Schillo & Richard C. van Kleef, 2018. "Reinsurance, Repayments, and Risk Adjustment in Individual Health Insurance: Germany, The Netherlands and the U.S. Marketplaces," NBER Working Papers 25374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Timothy J. Layton & Thomas G. McGuire & Anna D. Sinaiko, 2016. "Risk Corridors and Reinsurance in Health Insurance Marketplaces: Insurance for Insurers," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 2(1), pages 66-95, January.
    12. Colleen Carey, 2017. "Technological Change and Risk Adjustment: Benefit Design Incentives in Medicare Part D," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 38-73, February.
    13. Yi Yao & Joan Schmit & Julie Shi, 2019. "Promoting sustainability for micro health insurance: a risk-adjusted subsidy approach for maternal healthcare service," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 44(3), pages 382-409, July.
    14. Timothy J. Layton & Thomas G. McGuire, 2017. "Marketplace Plan Payment Options for Dealing with High-Cost Enrollees," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 3(2), pages 165-191, Spring.
    15. Timothy J. Layton & Randall P. Ellis & Thomas G. McGuire, 2015. "Assessing Incentives for Adverse Selection in Health Plan Payment Systems," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series wp2015-024, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    16. Timothy J. Layton & Thomas G. McGuire & Anna D. Sinaiko, 2016. "Risk Corridors and Reinsurance in Health Insurance Marketplaces: Insurance for Insurers," American Journal of Health Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 66-95, Winter.
    17. Thomas G. McGuire & Anna L. Zink & Sherri Rose, 2020. "Simplifying and Improving the Performance of Risk Adjustment Systems," NBER Working Papers 26736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Michael Geruso & Timothy J. Layton, 2017. "Selection in Health Insurance Markets and Its Policy Remedies," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 23-50, Fall.
    19. Jason Abaluck & Jonathan Gruber, 2016. "Improving the Quality of Choices in Health Insurance Markets," NBER Working Papers 22917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Shuli Brammli-Greenberg & Jacob Glazer & Ruth Waitzberg, 2019. "Modest risk-sharing significantly reduces health plans’ incentives for service distortion," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 20(9), pages 1359-1374, December.
    21. Michael Geruso & Timothy Layton & Daniel Prinz, 2019. "Screening in Contract Design: Evidence from the ACA Health Insurance Exchanges," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 64-107, May.
    22. Zhang, Xue & Sweetman, Arthur, 2018. "Blended capitation and incentives: Fee codes inside and outside the capitated basket," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 16-29.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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