Evaluating Health Care Externality Costs Generated by Risky Consuption Goods

We present an overlapping-generations (OLG) macroeconomic model that applies a behavioral interpretation of preferences for goods that generate health risks. In this paper proneness to poor health is viewed as a cognitive miscalculation by economic agents between their expected health state over various consumption bundles and the actual health care they require for their health outcome. To model this the paper borrows insight from prospect theory and applies the reference-dependent preference framework to the specification of out utility model. In our model of the economy individual preferences are decomposed into intrinsic consumption utility and gain-loss utility associated with the miscalculation. Agents in the economy are stratified in their health states as well as their expected health care consumption according to some probability measure over the population. Heterogeneity introduced in this way generates consumers of varied proneness to risk associated with consumption of unhealthy goods because individuals have various marginal valuations of their miscalculation. In such a population, when all agents pay the same insurance premium, health-conscious agents shoulder the health care costs of their less health-conscious counterparts and the less health-conscious are engaged in less healthy consumption than they would if they paid actuarially fair premia. We demonstrate these effects in simulations by comparing the risk pooling equilibria to the actuarially fair pricing equilibria. This paper introduces the mathematical programming equilibrium constraint (MPEC) computational approach to compute model equilibria; we believe this approach is new to heterogeneous agent OLG model simulation.

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JEL Codes:
I19; E21; O41
Series Statement:
Research Report

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-24

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