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Do Private Patients have Shorter Waiting Times for Elective Surgery? Evidence from New South Wales Public Hospitals

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  • Meliyanni Johar
  • Elizabeth Savage

Abstract

The Productivity Commission (2008) identified waiting times for elective surgery as a measure of governments' success in providing accessible health care. At the 2007 COAG meeting, the Prime Minister identified reduction of elective surgery waiting times in public hospitals as a major policy priority. To date, the analysis of waiting time data has been limited to summary statistics by medical procedure, doctor specialty and state. In this paper, we look behind the summary statistics and analyse the extent to which private patients are prioritised over comparable public patients in public hospitals. Our empirical evidence is based on waiting list and admission data from public hospitals in NSW for 2004-2005. We find that private patients have substantially shorter waiting times, and tend to be admitted ahead of their listing rank, especially for procedures that have low urgency levels. We also explore the benefits and costs of this preferential treatment on waiting times. Copyright (c) 2010 The Economic Society of Australia.

Suggested Citation

  • Meliyanni Johar & Elizabeth Savage, 2010. "Do Private Patients have Shorter Waiting Times for Elective Surgery? Evidence from New South Wales Public Hospitals," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 29(2), pages 128-142, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econpa:v:29:y:2010:i:2:p:128-142
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Besley, Timothy & Hall, John & Preston, Ian, 1999. "The demand for private health insurance: do waiting lists matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 155-181, May.
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    7. Moorin, Rachael Elizabeth & Holman, Cashel D'Arcy J., 2006. "Does federal health care policy influence switching between the public and private sectors in individuals?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 79(2-3), pages 284-295, December.
    8. Diane Dawson & Rowena Jacobs & Stephen Martin & Peter Smith, 2006. "The impact of patient choice and waiting time on the demand for health care: results from the London Patient Choice project," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(12), pages 1363-1370.
    9. Lairson, David R. & Hindson, Paul & Hauquitz, Alan, 1995. "Equity of health care in Australia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 475-482, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Johar, Meliyanni & Jones, Glenn & Keane, Micheal P. & Savage, Elizabeth & Stavrunova, Olena, 2013. "Discrimination in a universal health system: Explaining socioeconomic waiting time gaps," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 181-194.
    2. Mark Stabile & Sarah Thomson, 2014. "The Changing Role of Government in Financing Health Care: An International Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(2), pages 480-518, June.
    3. Meliyanni Johar & Elizabeth Savage & Olena Stavrunova & Glenn Jones & Michael Keane, 2012. "Geographic Differences in Hospital Waiting Times," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 88(281), pages 165-181, June.
    4. Qian, Qu & Zhuang, Weifen, 2017. "Tax/subsidy and capacity decisions in a two-tier health system with welfare redistributive objective," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 260(1), pages 140-151.
    5. Megan Gu & Meliyanni Johar, 2016. "Economic Incentives in Health Care: The Case of Assigning Patients as “Not Ready for Care”," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 35(2), pages 130-141, June.
    6. Shmueli, Amir & Savage, Elizabeth, 2014. "Private and public patients in public hospitals in Australia," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 189-195.
    7. Johar, Meliyanni & Jones, Glenn & Keane, Micheal P. & Savage, Elizabeth & Stavrunova, Olena, 2013. "Discrimination in a universal health system: Explaining socioeconomic waiting time gaps," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 181-194.

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