CFDP Revision Date
Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) Code(s)
L5, I1, D0
Reclassiﬁcation risk is a major concern in health insurance where contracts are typically one year in length but health shocks often persist for much longer. We theoretically characterize optimal long-term insurance contracts with one-sided commitment, and use our characterization to provide a simple computation algorithm for computing optimal contracts from primitives. We apply this method to derive empirically-based optimal long-term health insurance contracts using all-payers claims data from Utah, and then evaluate the potential welfare performance of these contracts. We ﬁnd that optimal long-term health insurance contracts that start at age 25 can eliminate over 94% of the welfare loss from reclassiﬁcation risk for individuals who arrive on the market in good health, but are of little beneﬁt to the worst age-25 health risks. As a result, their ex ante value depends signiﬁcantly on whether pre-age-25 health risk is otherwise insured. Their value also depends on individuals’ expected income growth.
Ghili, Soheil; Handel, Ben; Hendel, Igal; and Whinston, Michael D., "Optimal Long-Term Health Insurance Contracts: Characterization, Computation, and Welfare Effects" (2020). Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers. 209.