Gatekeeping versus Direct-Access when Patient Information Matters
We develop a principal-agent model in which the health authority acts as a principal for both a patient and a general practitioner (GP). The goal of the paper is to weigh the merits of gatekeeping versus non-gatekeeping approaches to health care when patient selfhealth information and patient pressure on GPs to provide referrals for specialized care are considered. We find that, when GPs incentives matter, a non-gatekeeping system is preferable only when (i) patient pressure to refer is sufficiently high and (ii) the quality of the patient’s self-health information is neither highly inaccurate (in which case the patient's self-referral will very inefficient) nor highly accurate (in which case the GP’s agency problem will be very costly).
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