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Quantitative Analysis of Health Insurance Reform: Separating Community Rating from Income Redistribution

  • Ponpoje Porapakkarm

    (University of Macau)

  • Svetlana Pashchenko

    (University of Virginia)

Two key components of the upcoming health reform are a reorganization of the individual health insurance market and an increase in income redistribution in the economy. Which component contributes more to the welfare outcome of the reform? We address this question by constructing a general equilibrium life cycle model that incorporates both medical expenses and labor income risks. We replicate the key features of the current health insurance system in the U.S. and calibrate the model using the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey dataset. We find that the reform decreases the number of uninsured more than four times. It also brings significant welfare gains equivalent to almost one percent of the annual consumption. However, these welfare gains mostly come from the redistributive measures embedded in the reform. If the reform only reorganizes the individual market, introduces individual mandates but does not include any income-based transfers, the welfare gains are much smaller. This result is mostly driven by the fact that most uninsured people have low income. High burdens of health insurance premiums for this group are relieved disproportionately more by income-based measures than by the new rules in the individual market.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 1254.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:1254
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