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Estimating the Heterogeneous Welfare Effects of Choice Architecture: An Application to the Medicare Prescription Drug Insurance Market

Author

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  • Jonathan D. Ketcham
  • Nicolai V. Kuminoff
  • Christopher A. Powers

Abstract

We develop a structural model for bounding welfare effects of policies that alter the design of differentiated product markets when some consumers may be misinformed about product characteristics and inertia in consumer behavior reflects a mixture of latent preferences, information costs, switching costs and psychological biases. We use the model to analyze three proposals to redesign markets for Medicare prescription drug insurance: (1) reducing the number of plans, (2) providing personalized information, and (3) defaulting consumers to cheap plans. First we combine administrative and survey data to determine which consumers make informed enrollment decisions. Then we analyze the welfare effects of each proposal, using revealed preferences of informed consumers to proxy for concealed preferences of misinformed consumers. Results suggest that each policy produces large gains and losses for some consumers, but the menu reduction would unambiguously harm most consumers whereas personalized information would unambiguously benefit most consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan D. Ketcham & Nicolai V. Kuminoff & Christopher A. Powers, 2016. "Estimating the Heterogeneous Welfare Effects of Choice Architecture: An Application to the Medicare Prescription Drug Insurance Market," NBER Working Papers 22732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22732
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Meredith Fowlie & Catherine Wolfram & C. Anna Spurlock & Annika Todd & Patrick Baylis & Peter Cappers, 2017. "Default Effects and Follow-On Behavior: Evidence from an Electricity Pricing Program," NBER Working Papers 23553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Sébastien Houde & Erica Myers, 2019. "Heterogeneous (Mis-) Perceptions of Energy Costs: Implications for Measurement and Policy Design," NBER Working Papers 25722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Nicolai V. Kuminoff, 2018. "Can Understanding Spatial Equilibria Enhance Benefit Transfers for Environmental Policy Evaluation?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 69(3), pages 591-608, March.
    4. Donald S. Kenkel & Sida Peng & Michael F. Pesko & Hua Wang, 2017. "Mostly Harmless Regulation? Electronic Cigarettes, Public Policy and Consumer Welfare," NBER Working Papers 23710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Cornel Kaufmann & Tobias Mueller & Andreas Hefti & Stefan Boes, 2018. "Does personalized information improve health plan choices when individuals are distracted?," Diskussionsschriften dp1808, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    6. Houde, Sebastien & Aldy, Joseph E., 2017. "The Efficiency Consequences of Heterogeneous Behavioral Responses to Energy Fiscal Policies," Working Paper Series rwp17-047, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets

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