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Purchasing Health Care Services from Providers with Unknown Altruism

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Cost-sharing rules for paying physicians have been advanced as a way of generating incentives for the provision of quality care while recognizing their potential negative effects on production efficiency. However, the optimal sharing rate typically depends on the degree to which the physician acts in the interest of the patient, what we identify as the physician's altruism. Since the degree of altruism is likely to vary across physicians, and to be private information, the standard rules for setting the cost-sharing rate are unlikely to be optimal. This paper derives conditions for the optimal non-linear cost-sharing mechanism in the presence of asymmetric information about altruism, and shows how it can sometimes be implemented through a menu of linear cost-sharing schemes. The model can be used to rationalize the way some specialist physicians are paid in Australian hospitals.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~03-03-13.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2001
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~03-03-13

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Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
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Web page: http://econ.georgetown.edu/

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Postal: Marcia Suss Administrative Officer Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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Web: http://econ.georgetown.edu/

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Keywords: physician incentives; cost-sharing; altruism;

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  1. Chalkley, Martin & Malcomson, James M., 1998. "Contracting for health services when patient demand does not reflect quality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-19, January.
  2. Chalkley, Martin & Malcomson, James M., 2002. "Cost sharing in health service provision: an empirical assessment of cost savings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 219-249, May.
  3. Gaynor, Martin, 1994. "Issues in the Industrial Organization of the Market for Physician Services," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(1), pages 211-55, Spring.
  4. Glaeser, Edward L. & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Not-for-profit entrepreneurs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 99-115, July.
  5. Sherry Glied & Joshua Zivin, 2000. "How Do Doctors Behave When Some (But Not All) of Their Patients are in Managed Care?," NBER Working Papers 7907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
  7. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  8. Glied, Sherry, 2000. "Managed care," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 707-753 Elsevier.
  9. Ellis, Randall P. & McGuire, Thomas G., 1986. "Provider behavior under prospective reimbursement : Cost sharing and supply," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 129-151, June.
  10. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, December.
  11. William Jack, 2002. "Institutional design and the closure of public facilities in transition economies," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 10(3), pages 619-635, November.
  12. Ma, Ching-to Albert & McGuire, Thomas G, 1997. "Optimal Health Insurance and Provider Payment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 685-704, September.
  13. Glazer, Jacob & McGuire, Thomas G, 1994. "Payer Competition and Cost Shifting in Health Care," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(1), pages 71-92, Spring.
  14. McGuire, Thomas G., 2000. "Physician agency," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 461-536 Elsevier.
  15. Greenwald, Bruce C & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-64, May.
  16. Ching-to Albert Ma, 1994. "Health Care Payment Systems: Cost and Quality Incentives," Papers 0047, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  17. Joseph P. Newhouse, 2004. "Pricing the Priceless: A Health Care Conundrum," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262640589, December.
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