All consumer groups with specific preferences must feel free to easily switch insurer in order to discipline insurers to be responsive to consumers' heterogeneous preferences. This paper provides insight into the switching behaviour of low-risks (i.e. young or healthy consumers) and high-risks (i.e. elderly or unhealthy consumers) in the Netherlands in the period 2009-2012. We analysed: (1) administrative data with objective health status information (i.e. medically diagnosed diseases and pharmaceutical use) and information on health care expenses of nearly the entire Dutch population (n=15.3 million individuals) and (2) three-year sample data (n=1152 individuals). Our findings indicate that switching rates strongly decrease with age. For example, in 2009, consumers aged 25-44 switched 10 times more than consumers aged 75 or older. Another finding is that switching rates decrease as the predicted health care expenses increase. Although healthy consumers switch twice as much as unhealthy consumers, this difference becomes much smaller after adjusting for age. We conclude that our findings can be explained by higher perceived switching costs by elderly consumers than by young consumers. Consequently, insurers have low incentives to act as quality-conscious purchasers of care for the elderly consumers. Therefore, strategies should be developed to increase the choice of insurer of elderly consumers.

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Health Economics, Policy and Law
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Duijmelinck, D.M.I.D, & van de Ven, W.P.M.M. (2016). Switching rates in health insurance markets decrease with age: Empirical evidence and policy implications from the Netherlands. Health Economics, Policy and Law, 11(2), 141–159. doi:10.1017/S1744133115000328