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The Welfare Effects of Long-Term Health Insurance Contracts

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  • Benjamin R. Handel
  • Igal Hendel
  • Michael D. Whinston

Abstract

Reclassification risk is a major concern in health insurance. We use a rich dataset with individual-level information on health risk to empirically study one possible solution: dynamic contracts. Empirically, dynamic contracts with one-sided commitment substantially reduce the reclassification risk present with spot contracting, achieving close to the first-best for consumers with flat net income paths. Gains are smaller for consumers with net income growth, and these consumers prefer ACA-like community rating over dynamic contracts. However, lower risk aversion, sufficient switching costs, or government insurance of pre-age-25 health risks can raise welfare with dynamic contracts above the level in ACA-like markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin R. Handel & Igal Hendel & Michael D. Whinston, 2017. "The Welfare Effects of Long-Term Health Insurance Contracts," NBER Working Papers 23624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23624 Note: HC IO PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Igal Hendel & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2003. "The Role of Commitment in Dynamic Contracts: Evidence from Life Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 299-328.
    2. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
    3. Neale Mahoney, 2015. "Bankruptcy as Implicit Health Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 710-746, February.
    4. Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry & Amir Sufi, 2005. "Dynamic Inefficiencies in Insurance Markets: Evidence from Long-Term Care Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 224-228, May.
    5. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Salanie, 2000. "Testing for Asymmetric Information in Insurance Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 56-78, February.
    6. Cardon, James H & Hendel, Igal, 2001. "Asymmetric Information in Health Insurance: Evidence from the National Medical Expenditure Survey," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 408-427, Autumn.
    7. Michael Rothschild & Joseph Stiglitz, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 629-649.
    8. Pauly, Mark V & Kunreuther, Howard & Hirth, Richard, 1995. "Guaranteed Renewability in Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 143-156, March.
    9. Annette Hofmann & Mark Browne, 2013. "One-sided commitment in dynamic insurance contracts: Evidence from private health insurance in Germany," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 81-112, February.
    10. Ben Handel & Igal Hendel & Michael D. Whinston, 2015. "Equilibria in Health Exchanges: Adverse Selection versus Reclassification Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83(4), pages 1261-1313, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private

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