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Gatekeeping in health care

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Abstract

We study the competitive effects of restricting direct access to secondary care by gatekeeping, focusing on the informational role of gatekeeping general practitioners (GPs). We consider a secondary care market with two hospitals choosing the quality and specialisation of their care. GPs perfectly observe the diagnosis of a patient and the exact characteristics of the secondary care market. Patients are either informed or uninformed when accessing the hospital market. We consider two distinct cases: first, we let the fraction of informed patients be exogenous, implying that the regulator can only influence patients' decision of consulting a GP by making this compulsory ('direct gatekeeping'). Second, we endogenise this fraction by assuming GP consultation to be costly for the patient. Then the reulator can influence the GP attendance rate through the regulated price ('indirect gatekeeping'). A main finding of the paper is that strict gatekeeping may not be socially desirable, even if it is costless.

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  • Brekke, Kurt R. & Nuscheler, Robert, 2003. "Gatekeeping in health care," Working Papers in Economics 10/03, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2003_010
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gatekeeping; Imperfect information; Quality competition; Product differentiation; Price regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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