Are high-deductible plans the best choice?

For many individuals with employer-provided health insurance, a recent paper by Liu and Sydnor (2022) find that this is indeed the case. The authors use data from the 2011-2016 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Employer Health Benefits Survey (EHBS). The authors examine the maximum out-of-pocket cost (including both premiums and maximum cost-sharing) as well as whether…

Health Insurance and Investment Risk

Getting sick creates risk over two dimensions. First, you risk getting sick which of course decreases your utility. Second, getting sick impacts you financially as (i) medical procedures are often expensive and (ii) if you can’t work due to your illness your income may fall. With respect to financial risk, health insurance may provide a…

Are COVID-19 tests free?

The answer should be ‘yes’. From an economist’s perspective, prices for goods and services should generally be set at marginal cost unless there are externalities. In the case of COVID-19, there are clear externalities. By finding out that someone is COVID-19 positive, one could not only treat the patient (not an externality) but also the…

Why don’t people have health insurance?

The simple answer is, they can’t afford it. This may be a good argument for low-income individuals but for middle class and even upper middle class individuals we see people going without health insurance. The question is why. If income was the whole story, we would observe different incomes levels would have closer to 100%…

How does the CEA plan to improve health insurance markets

According to a February 2019 report, the Council of Economic Advisors proposes to improve health insurance markets through three key policies: Eliminate the individual mandate Permitting more small businesses to form Association Health Plans Expanding short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI) plans The report claims that these changes will generate $450 billion in social surplus over the…

Estimating the price elasticity of demand through value-based formulary designs

In 2010, Premera Blue Cross (Premera), a large nonprofit health plan in the Pacific Northwest implemented a value-based formulary design for its beneficiaries.   In essence, enrollees could purchase high-value treatments for low copayments and low-value treatments for higher copayments.  Can we use this change from more standard to value-base formulary designs to estimate the price elasticity…

Managed Competition in 2018

Alain Einthoven is the father of managed competition.  In a recent Health Affairs article, he and Laurence C. Baker look ]at managed competition in California and ask whether the standard conception of managed competition needs to be altered. Before we get to the article, we first need to ask a basic question: what is managed competition?  The…