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Limited Attention and the Demand for Health Insurance

  • Fels, Markus

We analyze how customers with limited attention value and choose among health plans. We show how the model can accommodate three observations regarding plan choice. First, people tend to overweight the premium and thus underappreciate the value of health insurance. Second, insurance companies may have a strong incentive to reduce quality and to hide these shortcomings in the fine print while attracting customers with insufficiently lower premiums. Finally, the willingness-to-pay for insurance is subadditive creating an incentive for providers to unbundle comprehensive plans. We discuss how these three effects may result in a fundamental dilemma for policy makers.

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Paper provided by Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association in its series Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order with number 80485.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:80485
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  1. Botond Koszegi & Adam Szeidl, 2013. "A Model of Focusing in Economic Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 53-104.
  2. Heiss, Florian & Leive, Adam & McFadden, Daniel L. & Winter, Joachim, 2013. "Plan selection in Medicare Part D: Evidence from administrative data," Munich Reprints in Economics 19428, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Richard Frank & Karine Lamiraud, 2008. "Choice, Price Competition and Complexity in Markets for Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 13817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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, 04.
  5. Iyengar, Sheena S. & Kamenica, Emir, 2010. "Choice proliferation, simplicity seeking, and asset allocation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(7-8), pages 530-539, August.
  6. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2005. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," NBER Working Papers 11755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jeffrey Liebman & Richard Zeckhauser, 2008. "Simple Humans, Complex Insurance, Subtle Subsidies," NBER Working Papers 14330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Heiss, Florian & McFadden, Daniel L. & Winter, Joachim, 2006. "Who failed to enroll in Medicare Part D, and why? Early results," Munich Reprints in Economics 19427, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Lee C. Vermeulen & Marian V. Wrobel, 2012. "Comparison Friction: Experimental Evidence from Medicare Drug Plans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 199-235.
  10. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "How individuals choose health insurance: An experimental analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 799-819, August.
  11. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2010. "Mind the Gap! Consumer Perceptions and Choices of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 413-481 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Johnson, Eric J, et al, 1993. "Framing, Probability Distortions, and Insurance Decisions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 35-51, August.
  13. Dahremöller, Carsten & Fels, Markus, 2015. "Product lines, product design, and limited attention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 437-456.
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