Thomas P. Lyon

Quality Competition, Insurance, and Consumer Choice in Health Care Markets

In this model, insurance offering a choice of hospitals is valued because consumers are uncertain which hospital they will prefer ex post. A competitive insurance market facilitates tacit price collusion between hospitals; high margins induce hospitals to compete for customers through overinvestment in quality. Incentives may exist to lock in market share via managed-care plans with less choice and lower prices. As technology becomes more expensive, the market increasingly offers too little choice. A pure managed care market may emerge, with underinvestment in quality. Relative to a pure insurance regime, however, all consumers are better off under managed care.