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Choosing Among Employer-sponsored Health Plans: What Drives Employee Choices?

Schwartz, Janet PhD; Hadler, Nortin M. MD; Ariely, Dan PhD; Huber, Joel C. PhD; Emerick, Thomas MBA

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 3 - p 305–309
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318279d74c
Original Articles

Objective: To probe employee basis for choosing health plans.

Methods: In a Web study, 337 employees from large private and public employers were asked to choose among health plans varying on several common dimensions.

Results: On per-dollar basis, respondents were more willing to spend $3 to $4 on out-of-pocket copayments than $1 on premiums. Nevertheless, sensitivity to monthly premium is greatest among those who are younger and cover only themselves, whereas sensitivity to the annual deductible is greatest among nonwhite families.

Conclusion: Employees are facing a complicated choice and might be well-served by more information about the value of options under different likelihood scenarios.

From the Department of Marketing (Dr Schwartz), A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA; Department of Medicine (Dr Hadler), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; Department of Marketing (Drs Ariely and Huber), Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Durham, NC; and Emerick Consulting LLC (Mr Emerick), Fayetteville, AR.

Address correspondence to: Nortin M. Hadler, MD, Department of Medicine, 3330 Thurston Bldg CB #7280, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27517 (

The study was performed without external funding.

The authors have no conflicts of interest

©2013The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine