Competition and physician-enabled demand: The role of managed care
Recent organizational changes in the health care sector promote greater patient participation in their treatment decisions. How physicians respond to patient-initiated requests for treatment is an issue of considerable policy interest. To study this phenomenon, we introduce the notion of physician-enabled demand and examine empirically whether this behavior responds to competitive pressures in the market and financial incentives associated with different physician payment mechanisms. We find that physician-enabled demand increases with more competition under fee-for-service reimbursement, but decreases with greater competition under managed care. This asymmetric response is quite consistent with our conceptual framework and at odds with alternative interpretations.
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