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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

what is Price mechanism
Dhany Reply
introduction to economics
Uday Reply
welfare definition of economics
Uday
examine the wealth and welfare definitions of economics
Uday
read book by ml jhingan
Anand
What do we mean by Asian tigers
Aeesha Reply
Dm me I will tell u
Shailendra
Hi
Aeesha
hi
Pixel
What is Average revenue
KEMZO
How are u doing
KEMZO
it is so fantastic
metasebia
uday
Uday
it is a group of 4 countries named Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong because their economies are growing very faster
Anand
what's a demand
Edward Reply
it is the quantity of commodities that consumers are willing and able to purchase at particular prices and at a given time
Munanag
quantity of commodities dgat consumers are willing to pat at particular price
Omed
demand depends upon 2 things 1wish to buy 2 have purchasing power of that deserving commodity except any from both can't be said demand.
Bashir
Demand is a various quantity of a commodities that a consumer is willing and able to buy at a particular price within a given period of time. All other things been equal.
Vedzi
State the law of demand
Vedzi
The desire to get something is called demand.
Mahabuba
what is the use of something should pay for its opportunity foregone to indicate?
Random Reply
Why in monopoly does the firm maximize profits when its marginal revenue equals marginal cost
astrid Reply
different between economic n history
Falma Reply
If it is known that the base change of RM45 million, the statutory proposal ratio of 7 per cent, and the public cash holding ratio of 5 per cent, what is the proposed ratio of bank surplus to generate a total deposit of RM 300 million? 
Jeslyne Reply
In a single bank system, a bank can create a deposit when it receives a new deposit in cash. If a depositor puts a cash deposit of RM10,000 into the bank, assume the statutory reserve requirement is 7% and the bank adopts a surplus reserve of 8%. a. Calculate the amount of deposits made at the end o
Jeslyne
the part of marginal revenue product curve lies in the _ stage of production is called form demand curve for variable input.
Bashir Reply
The cost associated with the inputs owned by the farmer is termed as
Bashir
the cost associated with inputs owned by the farmer is termed as ____
Bashir
why do we study economic
Nwobodo Reply
we study economics to know how to manage our limited resources
Eben
တစ်ဦးကျဝင်​ငွေ
myo
we study economics the know how to use our resources and where to put it
Mamoud
what is end
Nwobodo
we study economics to make rational decision
Gloria
we study economics only to know how to effectively and efficiently allocate our limited resource in other to meet our unlimited wants
Kpegba
We study economics inorder for us to know the difference of the needs and wants and aslo how to use the limited resources that are available
Bongani
who is the father of economy
Yajanyi Reply
adam smith
ibrahim
Adam smith
Somnath
professor Lionel Robins
Abraham
adam smith
albert
mariginal utility is finalized by who?
Barsharani
marshall
Aadi
Adam Smith
Laila
Adam smith
Mamoud
Adam Smith
Bongani
Adam smith
Veronica
adam smith barter system
Omed
why we study economics
Kitojo Reply
what is equilibrium price?
BENJAMIN Reply
This is the price In which quantity demanded is equal to the quantity supplied.
Binta
what is the principle of demand
Udoh
is when the price of two item is equal
Mamoud
is the market price at which the demand curve and supply curve of particular commodity interest.
Kpegba
can we say that without macroeconomics,microeconomics can succeed? and why?
Kpegba
equilibrium price is when prices are equal
Ramon
equilibrium price is a point at which demand and supply curve meet
Vedzi
please can you give us the correct answer after the lesson to be compared to our answers
Gloria Reply
in what?
ibrahim
why economics is the real life subject
Kitojo
because it is subjected to human decisions
Kpegba
why might an increase in money national income not necssarily lead to an increase in the standards of living
Multin
pls,who is a legal tender.can you explain well
Mary Reply
We think, that the legal tender is a form of payment of a debt or anything related, but which is not necessarily money. that can be bank notes, or coins for instance. but the bottom line is the legal tender is required to be recognized by the law, but it varies according to the jurisdiction.
Pierre
Thanks
Mary
Is it something like cheque
Mary
legal tender is anything that can be accepted for payment within a country
Tyson
good
Philo
is Something legally accepted in a particular place
Mamoud

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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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