IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/sip/dpaper/08-046.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Estimating Welfare in Insurance Markets Using Variation in Prices

Author

Listed:
  • Mark Cullen

    (Stanford University)

  • Liran Einav

    (Department of Economics, Stanford Univeristy)

  • Amy Finkelstein

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    National Bureau of Economic Research)

Abstract

We provide an illustration of how standard consumer and producer theory can be used to quantify the welfare loss associated with inefficient pricing in insurance markets with selection. We then show how this welfare loss can be estimated empirically using identifying variation in the price of insurance. Such variation, together with quantity data, allows us to estimate the demand for insurance. The same variation, together with cost data, allows us to estimate how insurer's costs vary as market participants endogenously respond to price. The slope of this estimated cost curve provides a direct test for both the existence and nature of selection, and the combination of demand and cost curves can be used to estimate welfare. We illustrate our approach by applying it to data on employer-provided health insurance from one speci?c company. We detect adverse selection but estimate that the quantitative welfare implications associated with inefficient pricing in our particular application are small, in both absolute and relative terms.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Cullen & Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "Estimating Welfare in Insurance Markets Using Variation in Prices," Discussion Papers 08-046, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:08-046
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/08-046.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Pierre‐André Chiappori & Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 2006. "Asymmetric information in insurance: general testable implications," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 783-798, December.
    2. Thomas Buchmueller & John Dinardo, 2002. "Did Community Rating Induce an Adverse Selection Death Spiral? Evidence from New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 280-294, March.
    3. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Jonathan Levin, 2010. "Beyond Testing: Empirical Models of Insurance Markets," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 311-336, September.
    4. 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.
    5. Fuchs, Victor R. (ed.), 1996. "Individual and Social Responsibility," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226267869, December.
    6. William Adams & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2009. "Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 49-84, March.
    7. 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.
    8. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries With a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(6), pages 1993-2008, November.
    9. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 2004. "Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets: Policyholder Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 183-208, February.
    10. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "The Causes and Consequences of the Dependence of Quality on Price," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 1-48, March.
    11. David M. Cutler & Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2008. "Preference Heterogeneity and Insurance Markets: Explaining a Puzzle of Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 157-162, May.
    12. Jaap H. Abbring & Pierre-André Chiappori & Jean Pinquet, 2003. "Moral Hazard and Dynamic Insurance Data," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 767-820, June.
    13. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-641, June.
    14. Tomas Philipson & John Cawley, 1999. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 827-846, September.
    15. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, April.
    16. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Optimal Taxation and Social Insurance with Endogenous Private Insurance," NBER Chapters, in: Income Taxation, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 85-114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Alma Cohen & Liran Einav, 2007. "Estimating Risk Preferences from Deductible Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 745-788, June.
    18. Levon Barseghyan & Jeffrey Prince & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2011. "Are Risk Preferences Stable across Contexts? Evidence from Insurance Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 591-631, April.
    19. de Meza, David & Webb, David C, 2001. "Advantageous Selection in Insurance Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 249-262, Summer.
    20. Jonathan Gruber, 2002. "Taxes and Health Insurance," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 16, pages 37-66, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Cutler, David M. & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 2000. "The anatomy of health insurance," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 563-643, Elsevier.
    22. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132-132.
    23. M. Kate Bundorf & Kosali I. Simon, 2006. "The Effects of Rate Regulation on Demand for Supplemental Health Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 67-71, May.
    24. 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.
    25. Hanming Fang & Michael P. Keane & Dan Silverman, 2008. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 303-350, April.
    26. David A. Wise, 1998. "Inquiries in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise98-2, January-J.
    27. Roger D. Feldman & Bryan E. Dowd, 1982. "Simulation of a Health Insurance Market with Adverse Selection," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 30(6), pages 1027-1042, December.
    28. Victor R. Fuchs, 1996. "Individual and Social Responsibility: Child Care, Education, Medical Care, and Long-Term Care in America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fuch96-1, January-J.
    29. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-890, July.
    30. Chernew, Michael & Gowrisankaran, Gautam & Scanlon, Dennis P., 2008. "Learning and the value of information: Evidence from health plan report cards," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 156-174, May.
    31. James M. Poterba, 2002. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 16," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote02-1, January-J.
    32. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, April.
    33. David M. Cutler & Sarah J. Reber, 1998. "Paying for Health Insurance: The Trade-Off between Competition and Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 433-466.
    34. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:783-798 is not listed on IDEAS
    35. Blackmon, B Glenn, Jr & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1991. "Mispriced Equity: Regulated Rates for Auto Insurance in Massachusetts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 65-69, May.
    36. Bruce C. Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-264.
    37. James M. Poterba (ed.), 2002. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 16," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661292.
    38. James M. Poterba, 1996. "Government Intervention in the Markets for Education and Health Care: How and Why?," NBER Chapters, in: Individual and Social Responsibility: Child Care, Education, Medical Care, and Long-Term Care in America, pages 277-308, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Paul Schrimpf, 2007. "The Welfare Cost of Asymmetric Information: Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 13228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    40. Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2006. "Multiple Dimensions of Private Information: Evidence from the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 938-958, September.
    41. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    42. David A. Wise, 1998. "Introduction to "Inquiries in the Economics of Aging"," NBER Chapters, in: Inquiries in the Economics of Aging, pages 1-15, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    43. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-326, June.
    44. Lustig, Joshua, 2008. "The Welfare Effects of Adverse Selection in Privatized Medicare," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7n09099j, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    45. Charles Wilson, 1980. "The Nature of Equilibrium in Markets with Adverse Selection," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 108-130, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Jonathan Levin, 2010. "Beyond Testing: Empirical Models of Insurance Markets," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 311-336, September.
    2. Ilya Rahkovsky, 2015. "Exclusive Contracts in Health Insurance," Business and Management Research, Business and Management Research, Sciedu Press, vol. 4(2), pages 37-53, June.
    3. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Sufficient Statistics for Welfare Analysis: A Bridge Between Structural and Reduced-Form Methods," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 451-488, May.
    4. Amy Finkelstein, 2011. "Comment on "The Demand for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage: Evidence from Four Waves of the Retirement Perspectives Survey"," NBER Chapters, in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 182-185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Optimal Taxation and Social Insurance with Endogenous Private Insurance," NBER Chapters, in: Income Taxation, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 85-114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Natalie Cox, 2017. "Pricing, Selection, and Welfare in the Student Loan Market: Evidence from Borrower Repayment Decisions," Working Papers 2017-2, Princeton University. Economics Department..
    7. Rahkovsky, Ilya, 2010. "Exclusive contracts in health insurance," MPRA Paper 27473, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. repec:hrv:faseco:34330197 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Raj Chetty & Amy Finkelstein, 2012. "Social Insurance: Connecting Theory to Data," NBER Working Papers 18433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Jonathan Levin, 2010. "Beyond Testing: Empirical Models of Insurance Markets," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 311-336, September.
    4. Alma Cohen & Peter Siegelman, 2010. "Testing for Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 77(1), pages 39-84, March.
    5. Daniel McFadden & Carlos Noton & Pau Olivella, "undated". "Remedies for Sick Insurance," Working Papers 620, Barcelona School of Economics.
    6. Daniel Bauer & Jochen Russ & Nan Zhu, 2020. "Asymmetric information in secondary insurance markets: Evidence from the life settlements market," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(3), pages 1143-1175, July.
    7. Gunnsteinsson, Snaebjorn, 2020. "Experimental identification of asymmetric information: Evidence on crop insurance in the Philippines," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    8. Patrick Bajari & Han Hong & Ahmed Khwaja, 2006. "Moral Hazard, Adverse Selection and Health Expenditures: A Semiparametric Analysis," NBER Working Papers 12445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Hanming Fang & Michael P. Keane & Dan Silverman, 2008. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 303-350, April.
    10. David M. Cutler & Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2008. "Preference Heterogeneity and Insurance Markets: Explaining a Puzzle of Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 157-162, May.
    11. Buchmueller, Thomas C. & Fiebig, Denzil G. & Jones, Glenn & Savage, Elizabeth, 2013. "Preference heterogeneity and selection in private health insurance: The case of Australia," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 757-767.
    12. Wuppermann, Amelie Catherine, 2011. "Empirical Essays in Health and Education Economics," Munich Dissertations in Economics 13187, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    13. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Paul Schrimpf, 2007. "The Welfare Cost of Asymmetric Information: Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 13228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2012. "Moral hazard and selection among the poor: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 72-85.
    15. Johannes Spinnewijn, 2017. "Heterogeneity, Demand for Insurance, and Adverse Selection," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 308-343, February.
    16. Dardanoni, V & Li Donni, P, 2008. "Testing For Asymmetric Information In Insurance Markets With Unobservable Types," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 08/26, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    17. Karl Ove Aarbu, 2017. "Asymmetric Information in the Home Insurance Market," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 84(1), pages 35-72, March.
    18. Spenkch, Jörg L., 2011. "Adverse selection and moral hazard among the poor: evidence from a randomized experiment," MPRA Paper 31443, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Kremslehner, Daniela & Muermann, Alexander, 2016. "Asymmetric information in automobile insurance: Evidence from driving behavior," CFS Working Paper Series 543, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    20. Alois Geyer & Daniela Kremslehner & Alexander Muermann, 2020. "Asymmetric Information in Automobile Insurance: Evidence From Driving Behavior," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 87(4), pages 969-995, December.
    21. Sebastian Soika, 2018. "Moral Hazard and Advantageous Selection in Private Disability Insurance," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 43(1), pages 97-125, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Asymmetric information; adverse selection; health insurance; efficiency cost;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:08-046. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/cestaus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Anne Shor The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Anne Shor to update the entry or send us the correct address (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/cestaus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.