Measuring consumer perceptions of quality differences among competing health benefit plans

Katherine Harris, Jennifer Schultz, Roger Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this paper, we combine revealed preference and survey data on attribute importance to estimate parameters that represent average perceived differences in the quality and convenience of competing health benefit plans. We find that consumers do not perceive differences in provider quality across options, though they do perceive differences related to waiting time and access to specialists. In order to validate our approach, we estimate parameters representing perceived premiums and compare the estimates to actual premium differences. The results suggest that consumers correctly perceive the high-premium option to cost more than the low-premium option. These results increase our confidence in the use of stated importance data to identify and interpret parameters measuring the effect of otherwise unobservable attributes of choice alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge helpful comments from Jayanta Bhattacharya, Michael Hurd, and Sally Stearns. In addition, we are grateful for the comments and suggestions of Jonathan Gruber and two anonymous reviewers. This project was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO) Initiative. Katherine Harris’s contribution was supported by a National Research Service Award from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (#T32-HS00046).


  • Discrete choice
  • Health plan
  • Health plan choice
  • Quality


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