NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Pricing and Welfare in Health Plan Choice

M. Kate Bundorf, Jonathan D. Levin, Neale Mahoney

NBER Working Paper No. 14153
Issued in June 2008
NBER Program(s):   HC   HE   IO   PE

Prices in government and employer-sponsored health insurance markets only partially reflect insurers' expected costs of coverage for different enrollees. This can create inefficient distortions when consumers self-select into plans. We develop a simple model to study this problem and estimate it using new data on small employers. In the markets we observe, the welfare loss compared to the feasible efficient benchmark is around 2-11% of coverage costs. Three-quarters of this is due to restrictions on risk-rating employee contributions; the rest is due to inefficient contribution choices. Despite the inefficiency, we find substantial benefits from plan choice relative to single-insurer options.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14153

Published: M. Kate Bundorf & Jonathan Levin & Neale Mahoney, 2012. "Pricing and Welfare in Health Plan Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3214-48, December. citation courtesy of

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