DP7942 Insurance Search and Switching Behavior
|Author(s):||Jonneke Bolhaar, Maarten Lindeboom, Bas van der Klaauw|
|Publication Date:||August 2010|
|Keyword(s):||Adverse selection, Consumer search, Group contracts, Health insurance, Managed competition|
|JEL(s):||D82, D83, I18|
|Programme Areas:||Public Economics|
|Link to this Page:||cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=7942|
This paper looks into the search behavior of consumers in the market for health insurance contracts. We consider the recent health insurance reform in The Netherlands, where a private-public mix of insurance provision was replaced by a system based on managed competition. Although all insurers offer the same basic package (determined by the government), there is substantial premium dispersion. We develop a simple consumer search model containing the main features of the Dutch health insurance system. This model provides us with a number of hypotheses, which we test using data from the Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel. The data confirm the standard predictions on consumer choice (i.e. there is adverse selection and a lower premium increases coverage). We also find that consumers with lower search costs are more likely to receive a group contract offer. This generates a situation of price discrimination where individuals without group contracts and higher search costs pay higher premiums and buy lower insurance coverage.