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Health Care Demand in the Presence of Discrete Price Changes

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  • Michael Gerfin
  • Boris Kaiser
  • Christian Schmid

Abstract

Deductibles in health insurance generate nonlinear budget sets and dynamic incentives. This paper uses detailed individual claims data from a large Swiss insurance company to estimate the response in health care demand to the discrete price increase that is generated by resetting the deductible at the start of each calendar year. We use a regression discontinuity type framework based on daily data to estimate the change in health care demand right before and right after the turn of the year. We find that for individuals with high deductibles health care demand drops by 27%, which translates into an elasticity of -.21. The decrease is most pronounced for inpatient care and prescription drugs. By contrast, for individuals with low deductibles there is no significant change in health care demand (except for prescription drugs). A remaining open question is whether the observed behavioral responses can be attributed to intertemporal substitution or whether they constitute a classic moral hazard effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Gerfin & Boris Kaiser & Christian Schmid, 2014. "Health Care Demand in the Presence of Discrete Price Changes," Diskussionsschriften dp1403, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  • Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp1403
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Herr, A. & Suppliet, M., 2011. "Co-Payment Exemptions and Reference Prices: an Empirical Study of Pharmaceutical Prices in Germany," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 11/18, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    2. Stefanie Thönnes, 2019. "Ex-post moral hazard in the health insurance market: empirical evidence from German data," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 20(9), pages 1317-1333, December.
    3. Schmid, Christian P.R. & Beck, Konstantin, 2016. "Re-insurance in the Swiss health insurance market: Fit, power, and balance," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(7), pages 848-855.
    4. K. P. M. Winssen & R. C. Kleef & W. P. M. M. Ven, 2017. "A voluntary deductible in health insurance: the more years you opt for it, the lower your premium?," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 18(2), pages 209-226, March.
    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. Kaufmann, Cornel & Müller, Tobias & Hefti, Andreas & Boes, Stefan, 2018. "Does personalized information improve health plan choices when individuals are distracted?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 197-214.
    7. Stefan Pichler & Jan Ruffner, 2016. "Does it really make a difference? Health care utilization with two high deductible health care plans," KOF Working papers 16-404, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    8. Klein, Tobias J. & Salm, Martin & Upadhyay, Suraj, 2020. "The Response to Dynamic Incentives in Insurance Contracts with a Deductible: Evidence from a Differences-in-Regression-Discontinuities Design," IZA Discussion Papers 13108, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Kaufmann, Cornel & Schmid, Christian & Boes, Stefan, 2017. "Health insurance subsidies and deductible choice: Evidence from regional variation in subsidy schemes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 262-273.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health care demand; nonlinear pricing; dynamic incentives; health insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private

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