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New insight into how people choose insurance plans
Date:2/27/2013

ata this way, the researchers were able to identify the links between insurance-plan choices, overall health status, and changes in behavior or "moral hazard" as measured by increased claims. In quantitative terms, their bottom-line finding is that these two factors are equally significant: "Selection on moral hazard is roughly as important as selection on health risk," the paper notes.

"There may be heterogeneity, and people may differ in how much more they spend when they get health insurance," Finkelstein notes.

That finding could influence the way insurance firms and policymakers structure plan choices and estimate overall costs. "In a world in which people chose health plans based on not just how sick they think they are, but also on how much they think they're going to increase their medical care use when the care is subsidized," Finkelstein says, it could significantly affect how much health-care spending would be reduced through mechanisms such as high-deductible plans.

In addition to Finkelstein, the co-authors of the paper are Mark Cullen, a professor in Stanford University's School of Medicine; Liran Einav, an economist at Stanford; Stephen Ryan, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin; and Paul Schrimpf, an economist at the University of British Columbia. Since 1997, Cullen has worked in coordination with Alcoa to study employee health issues.

Hard evidence but more would be useful

For her part, Finkelstein emphasizes that the topic could use additional investigation.

"I view this paper as a proof of concept that this phenomenon exists and can be important," Finkelstein says. "Now what we need to do both ourselves and other researchers, hopefully is to think about this in other settings, besides just the employee benefits of Alcoa."
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Contact: Sarah McDonnell
s_mcd@mit.edu
617-827-7637
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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