NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Strategic Formulary Design in Medicare Part D Plans

Kurt Lavetti, Kosali Simon

NBER Working Paper No. 22338
Issued in June 2016
NBER Program(s):AG, HC, HE

The design of Medicare Part D causes most Medicare beneficiaries to receive fragmented health insurance, whereby prescription drugs and other medical care are covered by separate insurance plans. Fragmentation of insurance plans is potentially inefficient since separate insurers maximize profits over only one component of healthcare spending, despite many complementarities and substitutabilities between types of healthcare. Fragmentation of some plans but not others can also lead to market distortions due to differential adverse selection, as integrated plans may use drug formulary designs to induce enrollment by patients who are profitable under Parts A & B, while stand-alone drug plans have no such incentive. We study whether the design of insurance plans in Medicare Part D reflects these two differences in incentives using data on the universe of Part D plan formularies, drug prices, and Medicare claims data. We find evidence consistent with both hypotheses. Relative to fragmented plans, integrated plans systematically design their drug formularies to encourage enrollment by beneficiaries with medical conditions that are profitable under Parts A & B. However, integrated plans also more generously cover drugs that have the potential to causally reduce medical costs. These large differences in incentives and plan design between integrated and fragmented plans are likely the precursors of substantial differential selection of enrollees, and the basic design of Medicare Part D abets this covert selection.

download in pdf format
   (434 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22338

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Landersø and Heckman w22465 The Scandinavian Fantasy: The Sources of Intergenerational Mobility in Denmark and the U.S.
Chandra, Gruber, and McKnight w12972 Patient Cost-Sharing, Hospitalization Offsets, and the Design of Optimal Health Insurance for the Elderly
Fryer w22399 An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force
Ho, Frankenberg, Sumantri, and Thomas w22317 Adult Mortality Five Years after a Natural Disaster: Evidence from the Indian Ocean Tsunami
Layton and McGuire w22519 Marketplace Plan Payment Options for Dealing with High-Cost Enrollees
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us