The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill thought it could count on students making good choices in a choice environment that did not make good choices easy to make.
Notre Dame thought it could count on students making good choices in a choice environment that did not make good choices easy to make.
The University of Pittsburgh thought it could count on students making good choices in a choice environment that did not make good choices easy to make.
West Virginia University hopes that it can count on students making good choices in a choice environment that does not make good choices easy to make:
President Gordon Gee remains optimistic students will make responsible choices even after reported off-campus parties last weekend in Morgantown.
“We got a number of calls from students who wanted us to take action in that regard,” Gee stated, referencing the weekend parties during an interview on Metronews’ “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval.
I am not a sociologist. I am not a student of group dynamics.
However, in my research on insurance enrollment, we hvae found choice structures and defaults matter. In current research in progress, we find that enrollees in California who had the option to choose identical networks, insurers and plan types with both lower monthly premiums and less cost sharing frequently made the wrong choice. We have found that the presence of auto-enrollment options is associated with dramatically higher probabilities of re-enrollment in the next year in California. As we wrote at the Incidental Economist
More broadly, these findings speak to the fact that administrative barriers affect consumers’ health coverage. Changing administrative barriers in health care will dramatically change consumers’ choices, health insurance take-up, and the composition of risk pools….
Choice architecture, such as the ordering and ranking of plans on a webpage or the underlying rules that govern choices and defaults matter. Their design is critical to a well-functioning health insurance market predicated on consumers choosing highly complex bundles of services. Auto reenrollment lowers administrative burden by reducing search and information costs. However, automatically reenrollment acts against the idea of choice as a means to discipline the market.
Simplified choice sets — for instance, where the worst choices are weeded out and good choices highlighted — will produce higher levels of enrollment, financial protection, and satisfaction. In contrast, spotty information, lack of intelligent defaults, and administrative barriers depress all these.
Automatic reenrollment is just one attribute, albeit an important one, of a supportive health insurance choice environment.
The choice environment matters. If we as benign social planners want people en masse to make good choices in a vast portfolio of choices that can range from really good to really bad, the good choices need to be clear and they need to be easy to make. Conflicting messaging and significant ordeals and obstacles to make good choices will lead to some people to make the choices that they want to make and some of those choices will be bad.
The choice and the surrounding environment that determines the ease of particular choices matter for insurance selection and most likely matters for many other things as well.