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Risk attitudes and Medicare Part D enrollment decisions

Stefan Vetter, Florian Heiss, Daniel McFadden and Joachim Winter ()

Discussion Papers in Economics from University of Munich, Department of Economics

Abstract: The new Medicare Part D program provides prescription drug coverage for older Americans through highly subsidized and tightly regulated plans offered by private insurance firms. For most eligible individuals without coverage from other sources, obtaining Part D coverage would be rational, but it requires active enrollment and plan choice decisions. We investigate if non-enrollment in Medicare Part D can partly be explained by risk aversion. Data are taken from a national online survey conducted just after the introduction Part D. The survey included a context-free and a context-related hypothetical lottery to measure an individual’s attitude towards risk. Respondents who are risk tolerant according to these measures were significantly less likely to enroll in Part D. We also illustrate that hypothetical choice questions designed to elicit risk attitudes are subject to reference-point effects. Even minor differences in the priming of respondents can result in potentially misleading conclusions about the role of risk aversion in the insurance decisions.

Keywords: Risk aversion; Medicare Part D; heterogeneous preferences; insurance demand; survey design (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 D81 H51 I1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-hea and nep-ias
Date: 2012-02
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https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/12740/1/Vetter_Hei ... llment_decisions.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
Journal Article: Risk attitudes and Medicare Part D enrollment decisions (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: Risk attitudes and Medicare Part D enrollment decisions (2013)
Working Paper: Risk attitudes and Medicare Part D enrollment decisions (2012) Downloads
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