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Imperfect information is the cause of the moral hazard problem. If an insurance company had perfect information on risk, it could simply raise its premiums every time an insured party engages in riskier behavior. However, an insurance company cannot monitor all the risks that people take all the time and so, even with various checks and cost-sharing, moral hazard will remain a problem.

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The adverse selection problem

Adverse selection refers to the problem in which the buyers of insurance have more information about whether they are high-risk or low-risk than the insurance company does. This creates an asymmetric information problem for the insurance company because buyers who are high-risk tend to want to buy more insurance, without letting the insurance company know about their higher risk. For example, someone purchasing health insurance or life insurance probably knows more about their family’s health history than an insurer can reasonably find out even with a costly investigation; someone purchasing car insurance may know that they are a high-risk driver who has not yet had a major accident—but it is hard for the insurance company to collect information about how people actually drive.

To understand how adverse selection can strangle an insurance market, recall the situation of 100 drivers who are buying automobile insurance, where 60 drivers had very low damages of $100 each, 30 drivers had medium-sized accidents that cost $1,000 each, and 10 of the drivers had large accidents that cost $15,000. That would equal $186,000 in total payouts by the insurance company. Imagine that, while the insurance company knows the overall size of the losses, it cannot identify the high-risk, medium-risk, and low-risk drivers. However, the drivers themselves know their risk groups. Since there is asymmetric information between the insurance company and the drivers, the insurance company would likely set the price of insurance at $1,860 per year, to cover the average loss (not including the cost of overhead and profit). The result is that those with low risks of only $100 will likely decide not to buy insurance; after all, it makes no sense for them to pay $1,860 per year when they are likely only to experience losses of $100. Those with medium risks of a $1,000 accident will not buy insurance either. So the insurance company ends up only selling insurance for $1,860 to high-risk drivers who will average $15,000 in claims apiece. So the insurance company ends up losing a lot of money. If the insurance company tries to raise its premiums to cover the losses of those with high risks, then those with low or medium risks will be even more discouraged from buying insurance.

Rather than face such a situation of adverse selection, the insurance company may decide not to sell insurance in this market    at all. If an insurance market is to exist, then one of two things must happen. First, the insurance company might find some way of separating insurance buyers into risk groups with some degree of accuracy and charging them accordingly, which in practice often means that the insurance company tries not to sell insurance to those who may pose high risks. Or second, those with low risks must be required to buy insurance, even if they have to pay more than the actuarially fair amount for their risk group. The notion that people can be required to purchase insurance raises the issue of government laws and regulations that influence the insurance industry.

Questions & Answers

why our wants are limited
Npoanlarb Reply
nooo want is unlimited but resources are limited
Ruchi
and do to that there occurs scarcity and we have to make choice in order to have what we need if need be I will explain more
Madara
our wants are not limited but rather the resources
Moses
what is demand
Thank Reply
demand is something wt we called in economic theory of demand it simply means if price of product is increase then demand of product will decrease
Ruchi
inverse relationship between demand and price
Ruchi
in microeconomic
Ruchi
demand is what and how much you want and what's your need...
Shikhar
how can one be so with economics even while you have less knowledge in mathematics.
OKORO Reply
why is it that some products increases everyday by day
Chiamaka Reply
because demand is increase
Ruchi
Importance of economics
Odunayomi Reply
the nature and significance of economics studies
Deborah
What is demand
Shuaib Reply
deman is amount of goods and services a consumer is willing and able to buy or purchase at a given price.
Sainabou
the willingness and ability of a body to purchase goods nd servicesbis called demand ,so if she/has ability but doesn't have willingness it's not a demand same if she or he has willingness but doesn't has ability it's not a demand too
Gul
Demand refers to as quantities of a goods and services in which consumers are willing and able to purchase at a given period of time and demand can also be defined as the desire or willingness and backed by the ability to pay.
Fadiga
Yeah
Mathias
What is Choice
Kofi
Choice refers to the ability of a consumer or producer to decide which good, service or resource to purchase or provide from a range of possible options. Being free to chose is regarded as a fundamental indicator of economic well being and development.
Shonal
how does consumer make profit
Clifford Reply
Compare and contract the function of commercial bank and the central bank of Nigeria
Akwi Reply
what do think is the difference between overhead costs and prime cost
Abdoulkarim
what is economics
Mohamed Reply
economics is a social science that study's how resources can be used to produce goods and services for society
Nathan
what is economics
Mohamed Reply
what is the basic economic problem
John Reply
rules
Buayadarat_Gaming
unlimited wants vs limited resources
Nathan
what economics is all about?
Nomuhle Reply
what is a new paradigm shift
Austen Reply
Paradigm shift it is the reconcilliation of fedural goods in production
Shyline
fedural? what is that?
Aziz
factors that affecting economic system
Bemen Reply
crux
Shyline
what is microeconomics
Nkanyiso Reply
what is the main problem in our economy
Nkanyiso
crux
Austen
what does crux mean
Shyline

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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