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The Magnitude and Nature of Risk Selection in Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

Author

Listed:
  • Sean Nicholson
  • Kate Bundorf
  • Rebecca M. Stein
  • Daniel Polsky

Abstract

Most existing studies of risk selection in the employer-sponsored health insurance market are case studies of a single employer or of an employer coalition in a single market. We examine risk selection in the employer-sponsored market by applying a switcher' methodology to a national, panel data set of enrollees in employer-sponsored health plans. We find that people who switched from a non-HMO to an HMO plan used 11 percent fewer medical services in the period prior to switching than people who remained in the non-HMO plan, and that this relatively low use persists once they enroll in an HMO. Furthermore, people who switch from an HMO to a non-HMO plan used 18 percent more medical services in the period prior to switching than those who remained in an HMO plan. HMOs would most likely continue to experience favorable risk selection if employers adjusted health plan payments based on enrollees' gender and age because the selection appears to occur based on enrollee characteristics that are difficult to observe such as preferences for medical care and health status.

Suggested Citation

  • Sean Nicholson & Kate Bundorf & Rebecca M. Stein & Daniel Polsky, 2003. "The Magnitude and Nature of Risk Selection in Employer-Sponsored Health Plans," NBER Working Papers 9937, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9937
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-277, June.
    2. Daniel Polsky & Sean Nicholson, 2004. "Why Are Managed Care Plans Less Expensive: Risk Selection, Utilization, or Reimbursement?," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 71(1), pages 21-40.
    3. David M. Cutler & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1998. "Adverse Selection in Health Insurance," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in Health Policy Research, Volume 1, pages 1-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mario Jametti & Thomas von Ungern-Sternberg, 2006. "Risk Selection in Natural Disaster Insurance – the Case of France," CESifo Working Paper Series 1683, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Mario Jametti & Thomas von Ungern-Sternberg, 2006. "Risk Selection in Natural Disaster Insurance - the Case of France," Working Papers 2006_1, York University, Department of Economics.
    3. Mario Jametti & Thomas von Ungern-Sternberg, 2010. "Risk Selection in Natural-Disaster Insurance," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 166(2), pages 344-364, June.
    4. Shmueli, Amir, 2011. "Switching sickness funds in Israel: Adverse selection or risk selection? Some insights from the analysis of the relative costs of switchers," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 247-254.
    5. Grönqvist, Erik, 2004. "Information Updating and Insurance Dropout: Evidence from Dental Insurance," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 576, Stockholm School of Economics.
    6. Lu Ji & Fei Liu, 2007. "HMO versus non-HMO private managed care plans: an investigation on pre-switch consumption," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 67-80, February.
    7. Jacob Glazer & Thomas G. McGuire, 2006. "Contending with Risk Selection in Health Insurance Markets in Germany," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7(s1), pages 75-91, May.
    8. Martina Grunow & Robert Nuscheler, 2014. "Public And Private Health Insurance In Germany: The Ignored Risk Selection Problem," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 670-687, June.
    9. Jason Shafrin, 2010. "Operating on commission: analyzing how physician financial incentives affect surgery rates," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(5), pages 562-580.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets

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