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Hospital competition with soft budgets

We study the incentives for hospitals to provide quality and expend cost-reducing effort when their budgets are soft, i.e., the payer may cover deficits or confiscate surpluses. The basic set up is a Hotelling model with two hospitals that differ in location and face demand uncertainty, where the hospitals run deficits (surpluses) in the high (low) demand state. Softer budgets reduce cost efficiency, while the effect on quality is ambiguous. For given cost efficiency, softer budgets increase quality since parts of the expenditures may be covered by the payer. However, softer budgets reduce cost-reducing effort and the profit margin, which in turn weakens quality incentives. We also find that profit confiscation reduces quality and cost-reducing effort. First best is achieved by a strict no-bailout and no-profit-confiscation policy when the regulated price is optimally set. However, for suboptimal prices a more lenient bailout policy can be welfare improving.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics in its series Discussion Paper Series in Economics with number 6/2012.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 15 Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2012_006
Contact details of provider: Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 55 959 277
Fax: 5595 9100
Web page: http://www.nhh.no/sam/
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  1. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," NBER Working Papers 5744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. J�nos Kornai & Eric Maskin & G�rard Roland, 2003. "Understanding the Soft Budget Constraint," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1095-1136, December.
  3. Eggleston, Karen & Shen, Yu-Chu, 2011. "Soft budget constraints and ownership: Empirical evidence from US hospitals," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 7-11, January.
  4. Kurt R. Brekke & Robert Nuscheler & Odd Rune Straume, 2005. "Gatekeeping in Health Care," CESifo Working Paper Series 1552, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Luigi Siciliani & Anderson Stanciole & Rowena Jacobs, 2008. "Do waiting times reduce hospital costs?," Discussion Papers 08/02, Department of Economics, University of York.
  6. Ellis, Randall P., 1998. "Creaming, skimping and dumping: provider competition on the intensive and extensive margins1," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 537-555, October.
  7. Kurt R. Brekke & Robert Nuscheler & Odd Rune Straume, 2006. "Quality and Location Choices under Price Regulation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 207-227, 03.
  8. Hagen, Terje P. & Kaarboe, Oddvar M., 2006. "The Norwegian hospital reform of 2002: Central government takes over ownership of public hospitals," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 320-333, May.
  9. Mark Duggan, 2000. "Hospital Ownership and Public Medical Spending," NBER Working Papers 7789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Kornai, Janos, 2001. "Hardening the budget constraint: The experience of the post-socialist countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1573-1599, October.
  11. Beitia, Arantza, 2003. "Hospital quality choice and market structure in a regulated duopoly," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 1011-1036, November.
  12. Brekke, Kurt Richard & Siciliani, Luigi & Straume, Odd Rune, 2007. "Competition and Waiting Times in Hospital Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 6285, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Eggleston, Karen, 2008. "Soft budget constraints and the property rights theory of ownership," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 425-427, September.
  14. Kurt R. Brekke & Luigi Siciliani & Odd Rune Straume, 2008. "Hospital competition and quality with regulated prices," NIPE Working Papers 06/2008, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  15. János Kornai, 2009. "The soft budget constraint syndrome in the hospital sector," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 117-135, June.
  16. Yu-Chu Shen & Karen Eggleston, 2009. "The effect of soft budget constraints on access and quality in hospital care," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 211-232, June.
  17. Hughes, David & McGuire, Alistair, 2003. "Stochastic demand, production responses and hospital costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 999-1010, November.
  18. Brekke, Kurt R. & Siciliani, Luigi & Straume, Odd Rune, 2012. "Quality competition with profit constraints," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 642-659.
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