IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Effect of Soft Budget Constraints on Access and Quality in Hospital Care

  • Yu-Chu Shen
  • Karen Eggleston

Given an increasingly complex web of financial pressures on providers, studies have examined how the hospitals' overall financial health affect different aspects of hospital operation. In our study, we analyze this issue focusing on hospital access and quality by introducing an important aspect of the financial incentives, soft budget constraints (SBC), that takes into account both hospital's current and past financial health as well as their expected financial outlook (i.e., whether there is a sponsoring organization to bail them out). We develop a conceptual framework of SBC by considering the resultant incentives on cost control and quality improvement innovations; and examine the effect of SBC on the following aspects of access and quality: safety net service survival and AMI mortality rates. We find that hospitals with softer budget constraints are less likely to shut down safety net services. In addition, hospitals with softer budget constraints appear to have better mortality outcomes, suggesting that the reduced incentive to engage in cost control innovation as the result of SBC outweighs the dampening effect of quality improvement innovation.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14256.

in new window

Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14256
Note: HC HE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. David M. Cutler, 1993. "The Incidence of Adverse Medical Outcomes Under Prospective Payments," NBER Working Papers 4300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Katherine Baicker & Douglas Staiger, 2004. "Fiscal Shenanigans, Targeted Federal Health Care Funds, and Patient Mortality," NBER Working Papers 10440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sujoy Chakravarty & Martin Gaynor & Steven Klepper & William B. Vogt, 2005. "Does the Profit Motive Make Jack Nimble? Ownership Form and the Evolution of the U.S. Hospital Industry," NBER Working Papers 11705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Eggleston, Karen, 2008. "Soft budget constraints and the property rights theory of ownership," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 425-427, September.
  5. Baker, Laurence C., 2001. "Managed care and technology adoption in health care: evidence from magnetic resonance imaging," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 395-421, May.
  6. Janos Kornai & Eric Maskin & Gerard Roland, 2002. "Understanding the Soft Budget Constraint," Economics Working Papers 0019, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  7. Hart, Oliver & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1127-61, November.
  8. Mark G. Duggan, 2000. "Hospital Ownership And Public Medical Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1343-1373, November.
  9. Mark McClellan & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Comparing Hospital Quality at For-Profit and Not-for-Profit Hospitals," NBER Working Papers 7324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Shen, Yu-Chu, 2003. "The effect of financial pressure on the quality of care in hospitals," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 243-269, March.
  12. Gloria J. Bazzoli & Hsueh-Fen Chen & Mei Zhao & Richard C. Lindrooth, 2008. "Hospital financial condition and the quality of patient care," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(8), pages 977-995.
  13. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14256. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.