Predictable profits and losses in a health insurance market with risk equalization: A multiple-contract period perspective

Anja A. Withagen-Koster*, Richard C. van Kleef, Frank Eijkenaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Many social health insurance systems rely on ‘regulated competition’ among insurers to improve efficiency. In the presence of community-rated premiums, risk equalization is an important regulatory feature to mitigate risk-selection incentives in such systems. Empirical studies evaluating selection incentives have typically quantified group-level (un)profitability for one contract period. However, due to switching barriers, a multiple contract period perspective might be more relevant. In this paper, using data from a large health survey (N≈380k) we identify subgroups of chronically ill and healthy individuals in year t and follow these groups over three consecutive years. Using administrative data covering the entire Dutch population (N≈17m), we then simulate the mean per person predictable profits and losses (i.e. spending predicted by a sophisticated risk-equalization model minus actual spending) of these groups over the three follow-up years. We find that most of the groups of chronically ill are persistently unprofitable on average, while the healthy group is persistently profitable. This implies that selection incentives might be stronger than initially thought, underscoring the necessity of eliminating predictable profits and losses for the adequate functioning of competitive social health insurance markets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104763
JournalHealth Policy
Volume131
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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Publisher Copyright: © 2023

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