How profitable is a voluntary deductible in health insurance for the consumer?

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To counteract moral hazard in health insurance, insured can be offered a voluntary deductible (VD) in return for a premium rebate. In the Dutch mandatory basic health insurance however, only 11 per cent of the insured opted for a VD in 2014. Several determinants could affect the decision to opt for a VD. This paper examines one of these determinants: the financial profitability. A VD is profitable for the consumer if the out-of-pocket expenses do not exceed the offered premium rebate. The empirical analyses, based upon individual-level data on costs and characteristics of over 800,000 Dutch insured, show that a VD of €500 on top of the mandatory deductible of €360 would have been financially profitable for 48 per cent of the Dutch insured given the average premium rebate of € 240 in 2014. If the whole population had a VD, most insured would obtain either the maximum loss (44 per cent) or the maximum gain (41 per cent). A VD is profitable for males, young insured, healthy insured and insured with few healthcare expenses in the past. To further reduce moral hazard, the following strategies can be used to increase the number of insured opting for a VD: provide insured with information regarding the VD and introduce a shifted deductible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-695
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2015

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-05-63-03 Competition


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