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Deductibles and Health Care Utilization: An Experiment on the Role of Forward-Looking Behavior

Author

Listed:
  • Kairies-Schwarz, Nadja
  • Harrison, Glenn W.
  • Han, Johann

Abstract

Recent evidence on nonlinear insurance contracts finds that individuals react to the embedded dynamic incentives by changing health care utilization. However, with field data it is difficult to keep the spot price among individuals constant while systematically varying the future price. To do so, we use a controlled laboratory experiment in which subjects are insured by a health plan with a deductible and go through a cycle of periods. In each period they face probabilistic health events and have to choose whether to seek treatment or not. We vary the likelihood of hitting the deductible by varying the number of periods and the height of the deductible, as well as controlling whether subjects receive regular information updates on their remaining deductible. We also elicit individual risk and time preferences. Our results show that varying the future price has a significant effect on spending behavior, regardless of whether the same future price is reached by changing the deductible or the number of periods. At an individual level, we identify perfectly forward-looking as well as perfectly myopic individuals. We find that a relationship between spending on health care and risk preferences, forward-looking behavior and giving information on the height of the deductible.

Suggested Citation

  • Kairies-Schwarz, Nadja & Harrison, Glenn W. & Han, Johann, 2018. "Deductibles and Health Care Utilization: An Experiment on the Role of Forward-Looking Behavior," VfS Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181588, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc18:181588
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health insurance; nonlinear prices; forward-looking behavior; laboratory experiment; risk and time preferences.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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