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Insurance choice and tax-preferred health savings accounts

Insurance choice and tax-preferred health savings accounts

Journal of Health Economics 26(2): 373-399

We develop an infinite horizon utility maximization model of the interaction between insurance choice and tax-preferred health savings accounts. The model can be used to examine a wide range of policy options, including flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, and health reimbursement accounts. We also develop a 2-period model to simulate various implications of the model. Key results from the simulation analysis include the following: (1) with no adverse selection, use of unrestricted health savings accounts leads to modest welfare gains, after accounting for the tax revenue loss; (2) with adverse selection and an initial pooling equilibrium comprised of "sick" and "healthy" consumers, introducing HSAs can, but does not necessarily, lead to a new pooling equilibrium. The new equilibrium results in a higher coinsurance rate, an increase in expected utility for healthy consumers, and a decrease in expected utility for sick consumers; (3) with adverse selection and a separating equilibrium, both sick and healthy consumers are better off with a health savings account; (4) efficiency gains are possible when insurance contracts are explicitly linked to tax-preferred health savings accounts.

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Accession: 049368982

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 17129625

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2006.10.010

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