NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Mind the Gap! Consumer Perceptions and Choices of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans

Florian Heiss, Daniel McFadden, Joachim Winter

NBER Working Paper No. 13627
Issued in November 2007
NBER Program(s):   AG   HC

Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage through Medicare approved plans offered by private insurance companies and HMOs. In this paper, we study the role of current prescription drug use and health risks, related expectations, and subjective factors in the demand for prescription drug insurance. To characterize rational behavior in the complex Part D environment, we develop an intertemporal optimization model of enrollment decisions. We generally find that seniors' choices respond to the incentives provided by their own health status and the market environment as predicted by the optimization model. The proportion of individuals who do not attain the optimal choice is small, but the margin for error is also small since enrollment is transparently optimal for most eligible seniors. Further, there is also evidence that seniors over-react to some salient features of the choice situation, do not take full account of the future benefit and cost consequences of their decisions, or the expected net benefits and risk properties of alternative plans.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13627

Published: Mind the Gap! Consumer Perceptions and Choices of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans, Florian Heiss, Daniel McFadden, Joachim Winter. in Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, Wise. 2010

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