Special Issue "Health Market: Incentives and Competition"


A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2013)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Ching-To Albert Ma
Department of Economics, Boston University, 270 Bay State Road, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA
Website: http://people.bu.edu/ma/
E-Mail: ma@bu.edu
Interests: incentives and payment design in the health market; competition in the health market; interaction between public and private health sectors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The health care market continues its growth in many economies. Stakeholders’ foremost concern is the cost of health care. For example, the upcoming health care reform in the United States will begin by the mandate that consumers have health insurance. An additional 30 to 40 million Americans acquiring health insurance will lead to higher health care expenditure if costs and prices stay constant. The US Affordable Care act therefore must proceed to initiate cost-control measures. Other economies face similar issues. Those countries that have already instituted universal health insurance or services are mindful of the high cost. Competition policies and incentive designs are the instruments that may advert rising costs. The complexity in the health care market makes the research on such policies and designs both exciting and difficult. Furthermore, recent advances in behavioral and information economics have yet to impact fully research on payment methods, quantity controls, horizontal and vertical mergers, entries and exits. This special issue has a broad focus on incentive and competition in relation to the health market as its goal is to publish a collection of state-of-the-art research articles. Both theoretical and empirical submissions are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Ching-To Albert Ma
Guest Editor


Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs).


  • incentive design
  • competition policy
  • payment mechanism
  • quantity control
  • managed care
  • health insurance
  • health care delivery

Published Papers (2 papers)

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5299-5332; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115299
Received: 26 August 2013; in revised form: 30 September 2013 / Accepted: 8 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
Show/Hide Abstract | Download PDF Full-text (610 KB) | Download XML Full-text

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(6), 2560-2577; doi:10.3390/ijerph10062560
Received: 13 May 2013; in revised form: 5 June 2013 / Accepted: 9 June 2013 / Published: 19 June 2013
Show/Hide Abstract | Download PDF Full-text (419 KB) | View HTML Full-text | Download XML Full-text

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Regulated Competition among Health Insurers: The Role of Information about Consumers' Price/Quality Trade-Offs
Author: Ferdy van Beest1, Christiaan Lako2, Esther-Mirjam Sent3 and Jana Vyrastekova3
Affiliation: 1 Dept. of Financial Accounting and Reporting, Nyenrode Business University, The Netherlands
2 Dept. of Public Administration, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
3 Dept. of Economics, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Abstract: This paper addresses whether competition on the health insurance market, stimulated by consumers switching between available insurance plans, improves consumer welfare. We use an experimental study to gain novel insights concerning the impact of the information insurers have about customer preferences. In a simple analytical model, this paper demonstrates that the willingness of consumers to trade a price increase for a quality increase affects the market outcomes. The information on these consumer trade-offs turns out to have a considerable influence on whether competition increases consumer welfare. The experimental results show that when consumer preferences are known, competition becomes efficiency stimulating. When insurers have incomplete information on consumer demand preferences, however, the consumer welfare may decrease and it is not anymore possible to identify such unambiguously positive impact of competition. A policy targeted towards addressing consumers’ preferences is suggested as a solution to mitigate the negative impact competition might have on consumer surplus in the health insurance market.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Status Quo Bias in Health Insurance
Author: Stefan Felder 1, Miriam Krieger 2
Affiliation: 1 CINCH and University of Basel, Switzerland; E-Mail: stefan.felder@unibas.ch
2 University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany
Abstract: We conduct an economic experiment to study whether decisions over health insurance policies are subject to status quo bias and, if so, whether experience mitigates this framing effect. Choices in two treatment groups framed in terms of a status quo default are compared to choices in a neutrally framed control group. A unique two-step design features sorting of subjects into the groups, allowing us to control for selection effects due to risk preferences. The results confirm that status quo bias is present in consumer choices over health insurance policies. However, this effect of the default framing does not persist as subjects become more experienced in later periods of the experiment. There are implications for policy from these results, for example on the use of non-binding defaults in health insurance to facilitate the spread of co-insurance policies and thereby help contain expenditure in public health care financing.

Last update: 2 November 2012

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