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Physician Payment Mechanisms, Hospital Length of Stay and Risk of Readmission: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

  • Échevin, Damien

    ()

    (University of Sherbrooke)

  • Fortin, Bernard

    ()

    (Université Laval)

We provide an analysis of the effect of physician payment methods on their hospital patients' length of stay and risk of readmission. To do so, we exploit a major reform implemented in Quebec (Canada) in 1999. The Quebec Government introduced an optional mixed compensation (MC) scheme for specialist physicians working in hospital. This scheme combines a fixed per diem with a reduced fee for services provided, as an alternative to the traditional fee-for- service system. We develop a model of a physician's decision to choose the MC scheme. We show that a physician who adopts this system will have incentives to increase his time per clinical service provided. We demonstrate that as long as this effect does not improve his patients' health by more than a critical level, they will stay more days in hospital over the period. At the empirical level, we estimate a model of transition between spells in and out of hospital analog to a difference-in-differences approach. We find that the hospital length of stay of patients treated in departments that opted for the MC system increased on average by 5.3% (0.35 days). However, the risk of readmission to the same department with the same diagnosis does not appear to be overall affected by the reform.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7835.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Health Economics, 2014, 36, 112-124
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7835
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  1. Etienne Dumont & Bernard Fortin & Nicolas Jacquemet & Bruce S. Shearer, 2008. "Physicians' Multitasking and Incentives: Empirical Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CIRANO Working Papers 2008s-20, CIRANO.
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  9. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
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  13. Blomquist, N Soren, 1989. "Comparative Statics for Utility Maximization Models with Nonlinear Budget Constraints," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(2), pages 275-96, May.
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