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VIII. GAPS IN THE LITERATURE

Since the HIE, an extensive literature has emerged using more recent data and improved

statistical techniques to estimate the price and income elasticity of demand for health insurance

and health care services. As a result, we know much more about consumers’ response to

changes in the price of health insurance and certain health care services than we did 30 years

ago, especially with respect to differences in the demand for coverage among employers,

employees,

and

individuals.

Yet,

gaps

exist

in

every

aspect

of

estimating

and

applying

elasticity—whether related to data or methodological limitations, knowledge about certain

products or subpopulations, or applications for policy simulation. This chapter summarizes the

major gaps identified in our review of the literature. Filling any or all of these gaps could offer

great value to policymakers both by improving the science of elasticity estimation and by

supporting better policy analysis and evaluation.

A. DATA AND METHODS

As discussed in the previous chapters, a number of methodological challenges have made

elasticity estimation difficult. Although researchers have developed sophisticated econometric

techniques to address some of these challenges, more could be done in three fundamental areas

to improve the precision of elasticity estimates.

1.

Expand Current Surveys to Accommodate Linking Data

Assembling data that contain full price and income information as well as an accurate and

complete set of other factors that affect demand is a fundamental condition for improving

estimates of the elasticity of demand for either health insurance or health care services.

Currently, no single data source obtains information for all of the parties to decisions about

health insurance or health care use: individuals and their families, employers, providers, and 65

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