Time Aggregation in Health Insurance Deductibles
51 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2021 Last revised: 8 Mar 2023
Date Written: February 2021
Health insurance plans increasingly pay for expenses only beyond a large annual deductible. This paper explores the implications of deductibles that reset over shorter timespans. We develop a model of insurance demand between two actuarially equivalent deductible policies, in which one deductible is larger and resets annually and the other deductible is smaller and resets biannually. Our model incorporates borrowing constraints, moral hazard, mid-year contract switching, and delayable care. Calibrations using claims data show that the liquidity benefits of resetting deductibles can generate welfare gains of 3-10% of premium costs, particularly for individuals with borrowing constraints.
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