Understanding consumer preferences in the context of managed competition
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In many countries, health insurance coverage is the primary way for individuals to access care. Governments can support access through social insurance programmes; however, after a certain period, governments struggle to achieve universal coverage. Evidence suggests that complex individual behaviour may play a role.
Using a choice experiment, this research explored consumer preferences for health insurance in Colombia. We also evaluated whether preferences differed across consumers with differing demographic and health status factors.
A household field experiment was conducted in Bogotá in 2010. The sample consisted of 109 uninsured and 133 low-income insured individuals. Each individual evaluated 12 pair-wise comparisons of hypothetical health plans. We focused on six characteristics of health insurance: premium, out-of-pocket expenditure, chronic condition coverage, quality of care, family coverage and sick leave. A main effects orthogonal design was used to derive the 72 scenarios used in the choice experiment. Parameters were estimated using conditional logit models. Since price data were included, we estimated respondents’ willingness to pay for characteristics.
Consumers valued health benefits and family coverage more than other attributes. Additionally, differences in preferences can be exploited to increase coverage. The willingness to pay for benefits may partially cover the average cost of providing them.
Policy makers might be able to encourage those insured via the subsidized system to enrol in the next level of the social health insurance scheme through expanding benefits to family members and expanding the level of chronic condition coverage.