Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Helmut Farbmacher (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging) and Joachim Winter (University of Munich, Department of Economics) discuss Non-linear price schedules, demand for health care and response behavior.
ABSTRACT: When health insurance reforms involve non-linear price schedules tied to payment periods (for example, a quarter or a year), the empirical analysis of its effects has to take the within-period time structure of incentives into account. The analysis is further complicated when demand data are obtained from a survey in which the reporting period does not coincide with the payment period. We illustrate these issues using as an example a health care reform in Germany which imposed a perquarter fee of E10 for doctor visits and additionally set an out-of-pocket maximum. This co-payment structure results in an effective spot price for a doctor visit which decreases over time within each payment period. Using this variation, we find a substantial effect of the new fee, in contrast to earlier studies of this reform. Overall, the probability of visiting a physician decreased by around 2.5 percentage points in response to the new fee for doctor visits. We verify the key assumptions of our approach using a separate data set of insurance claims in which the reporting period effects are absent by construction.