Pricing Regulation and Imperfect Competition on the Massachusetts Health Insurance Exchange

37 Pages Posted: 19 May 2012

See all articles by Keith M. Marzilli Ericson

Keith M. Marzilli Ericson

Boston University - Markets, Public Policy, and Law; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Amanda Starc

Kellogg School of Management, Northweste

Date Written: May 2012

Abstract

We analyze consumer demand and model the effect of pricing regulation under imperfect competition using data from the Massachusetts health insurance exchange. We identify consumer demand using coarse insurer pricing strategies. There is substantial heterogeneity in preferences by consumer type, with younger consumers twice as price sensitive as older consumers. As a result, older consumers face higher markups over costs. Modified community rating links prices for consumers that differ in both costs and preferences. Constrained prices are not simply the population-weighted average of unconstrained prices, because community rating changes the marginal consumer firms face. Tightening rating regulations transfers resources from low cost to high cost consumers, but also reduces firm profits and increases overall consumer surplus. We use our model to examine other insurance regulations. For instance, minimum loss ratios (designed to limit firm profits) will also alter the transfers between consumers. Moreover, risk adjustment will be insufficient to equalize prices across consumer types, as markups still differ. As a result, without a mandate, the market can unravel due to differences in preferences alone

Suggested Citation

Ericson, Keith M. Marzilli and Starc, Amanda, Pricing Regulation and Imperfect Competition on the Massachusetts Health Insurance Exchange (May 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18089. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2062722

Keith M. Marzilli Ericson (Contact Author)

Boston University - Markets, Public Policy, and Law ( email )

Boston, MA
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Amanda Starc

Kellogg School of Management, Northweste ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
3303382067 (Phone)

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