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Information Asymmetry, Insurance, and the Decision to Hospitalize

  • Åke Blomqvist

    (National University of Singapore)

  • Pierre Thomas Léger


    (l’Université de Montréal)

We analyze the effects of various kinds of demand- and supply-side incentives in the context of a model in which patients and doctors must decide not only on an aggregate quantity of health services to use in treating various kinds of illness, but also have a choice between different kinds of providers (in particular, outpatient services rendered by primary-care physicians or inpatient services provided by hospital-based specialists). We consider well -informed patients’ choices of provider when they have conventional insurance so they only pay part of the cost of their health services, as well as the equilibrium strategies of doctors and patients when there is patient-provider asymmetry; in the latter case we also analyze a managed-care insurance setup under which doctors are paid by capitation. We find that under certain plausible conditions, second-best optimal managed-care plans dominate second -best optimal conventional plans that rely on cost control through demand-side cost sharing.

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Paper provided by National University of Singapore, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number wp0305.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nus:nusewp:wp0305
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  1. Glied, Sherry, 2000. "Managed care," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 707-753 Elsevier.
  2. Dranove, David, 1988. "Demand Inducement and the Physician/Patient Relationship," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(2), pages 281-98, April.
  3. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-77, June.
  4. Ellis, Randall P. & McGuire, Thomas G., 1986. "Provider behavior under prospective reimbursement : Cost sharing and supply," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 129-151, June.
  5. Blomqvist, Ake, 1991. "The doctor as double agent: Information asymmetry, health insurance, and medical care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 411-432.
  6. Asher Wolinsky, 1993. "Competition in a Market for Informed Experts' Services," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 380-398, Autumn.
  7. Marinoso, Begona Garcia & Jelovac, Izabela, 2003. "GPs' payment contracts and their referral practice," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 617-635, July.
  8. Ma, Ching-to Albert & McGuire, Thomas G, 1997. "Optimal Health Insurance and Provider Payment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 685-704, September.
  9. Pierre Thomas Léger, 2000. "Quality control mechanisms under capitation payment for medical services," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(2), pages 564-586, May.
  10. Gravelle, Hugh & Dusheiko, Mark & Sutton, Matthew, 2002. "The demand for elective surgery in a public system: time and money prices in the UK National Health Service," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 423-449, May.
  11. Rochaix, Lise, 1989. "Information asymmetry and search in the market for physicians' services," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 53-84, March.
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