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Incentives In HMOs

  • Martin Gaynor
  • James B. Rebitzer
  • Lowell J. Taylor

We studied the effect of physician incentives in an HMO network. Physician incentives are controversial because they may induce doctors to make treatment decisions that differ from those they would choose in the absence of incentives. We set out a theoretical framework for assessing the degree to which incentive contracts do, in fact, induce physicians to deviate from a standard, guided only by patient interest and professional medical judgment. Our empirical evaluation of the model relies on details of the HMO's incentive contracts and access to the firms' internal expenditure records. We estimate that the HMO's incentive contract provides a typical physician an increase, at the margin, of $.10 in income for each $1.00 reduction in medial utilization expenditures. The average response is a 5-percent reduction in medical expenditures. We also find suggestive evidence that financial incentives linked to commonly used "quality" measures may stimulate an improvement in measured quality.

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Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_340.

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Date of creation: Oct 2001
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Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_340
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.levyinstitute.org

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  1. Martin Gaynor & Paul Gertler, 1995. "Moral Hazard and Risk Spreading in Partnerships," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(4), pages 591-613, Winter.
  2. Ferrall, Christopher & Shearer, Bruce, 1999. "Incentives and Transactions Costs within the Firm: Estimating an Agency Model Using Payroll Records," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 309-38, April.
  3. David M. Cutler & Mark McClellan & Joseph P. Newhouse, 2000. "How Does Managed Care Do It?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(3), pages 526-548, Autumn.
  4. McClellan, Mark & Cutler, David & Newhous, Joseph P., 2000. "How Does Managed Care Do It?," Scholarly Articles 2643884, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Internal Economics of the Firm: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 881-919, November.
  6. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
  7. McGuire, Thomas G., 2000. "Physician agency," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 461-536 Elsevier.
  8. Robert Gibbons, 1996. "Incentives and Careers in Organizations," NBER Working Papers 5705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Landers, Renee M & Rebitzer, James B & Taylor, Lowell J, 1996. "Rat Race Redux: Adverse Selection in the Determination of Work Hours in Law Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 329-48, June.
  10. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
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