Active Choice, Implicit Defaults, and the Incentive to Choose

41 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2019

See all articles by John Beshears

John Beshears

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James J. Choi

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David Laibson

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Brigitte C. Madrian

Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

Home-delivered prescriptions have no delivery charge and lower copayments than prescriptions picked up at a pharmacy. Nevertheless, when home delivery is offered on an opt-in basis, the take-up rate is only 6%. We study a program that makes active choice of either home delivery or pharmacy pick-up a requirement for insurance eligibility. The program introduces an implicit default for those who don’t make an active choice: pharmacy pick-up without insurance subsidies. Under this program, 42% of eligible employees actively choose home delivery, 39% actively choose pharmacy pick-up, and 19% make no active choice and are assigned the implicit default. Individuals who financially benefit most from home delivery are more likely to choose it. Those who benefit least from insurance subsidies are more likely to make no active choice and lose those subsidies. The implicit default incentivizes people to make an active choice, thereby playing a key role in choice architecture.

Suggested Citation

Beshears, John and Choi, James J. and Laibson, David I. and Madrian, Brigitte C., Active Choice, Implicit Defaults, and the Incentive to Choose (January 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25473. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3319804

John Beshears (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

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James J. Choi

Yale School of Management ( email )

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David I. Laibson

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Brigitte C. Madrian

Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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