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Regulated Price Discrimination and Quality: The Implications of Medicaid Reimbursement Policy for the Nursing Home Industry


  • Paul J. Gertler


Nursing homes participate simultaneously in a regulated and an unregulated market, and are required to supply the same quality of service to both markets. Specifically, nursing homes compete for patients who finance their care privately, and patients whose care is financed by the government's Medicaid program. The government reimburses nursing homes a set fee for the care of Medicaid patients, whereas nursing homes charge "private pay" patients what the market will bear. Quality is determined by competition in the"private pay" patient market. The greater the size of the "private pay" market relative to the Medicaid market, the higher is quality. We find that Medicaid policy makers face a trade-off between the access of Medicaid patients to care and quality. Specifically, an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate causes nursing homes to reduce quality, increase"private pay" price, and to admit more Medicaid patients and fewer "private pay" patients. Hence, in the nursing home industry, higher prices are associated with lower levels of quality. In addition, nursing homes set quality higher if the remibursement rate is set via "cost plus" pricing than if it is set via "flat rate" pricing. Moreover, consumers in both markets are better off under "cost plus" pricing, nursing homes earn higher profits under "flat rate" pricing, and total governmental Medicaid expenditures are the same under both reimbursement methods.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul J. Gertler, 1985. "Regulated Price Discrimination and Quality: The Implications of Medicaid Reimbursement Policy for the Nursing Home Industry," NBER Working Papers 1667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1667
    Note: HE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
    2. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-641, August.
    3. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1976. "Price, Quality and Quantity Regulation in Monopoly Situations," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 43(17), pages 127-137, May.
    4. Meiners, Mark R., 1982. "An econometric analysis of the major determinants of nursing home costs in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 16(8), pages 887-898, January.
    5. Paul J. Gertler, 1985. "Subsidies, Quality, and Regulation in the Nursing Home Industry," NBER Working Papers 1691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Carl Shapiro, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-679.
    7. Leffler, Keith B, 1982. "Ambiguous Changes in Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 956-967, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul J. Gertler, 1985. "A Decomposition of the Elasticity of Medicaid Nursing Home Expenditures Into Price, Quality, and Quantity Effects," NBER Working Papers 1751, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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