A Model of the Impact of Reimbursement Schemes on Health Plan Choice

Published in: Journal of Health Economics, v. 17, no. 3, June 1998, p. 297-320

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1997

by Emmett B. Keeler, Grace M. Carter, Joseph P. Newhouse

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Flat capitation (uniform prospective payments) makes enrolling healthy enrollees profitable to health plans. Plans with relatively generous benefits may attract the sick and fail through a premium spiral. The authors simulate a model of idealized managed competition to explore the effect on market performance of alternatives to flat capitation such as severity-adjusted capitation and reduced supply-side cost-sharing. In the model, flat capitation causes severe market problems. Severity adjustment and to a lesser extent reduced supply-side cost-sharing improve market performance, but outcomes are efficient only in cases in which people bear the marginal costs of their choices.

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