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Professional norms and physician behavior: homo oeconomicus or homo hippocraticus?

  • Kesternich, Iris
  • Schumacher, Heiner
  • Winter, Joachim

Physicians' treatment decisions determine the level of health care spending to a large extent. The analysis of physician agency describes how doctors trade off their own and their patients' benefits, with a third party (such as the collective of insured individuals or the taxpayers) bearing the costs. Professional norms are viewed as restraining physicians' self-interest and as introducing altruism towards the patient. We present a controlled experiment that analyzes the impact of professional norms on prospective physicians' trade-offs between her own profits, the patients' benefits, and the payers' expenses for medical care. We find that professional norms derived from the Hippocratic tradition shift weight to the patient in the physician's decisions while decreasing his self-interest and efficiency concerns.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 456.

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Date of creation: 13 Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:456
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  13. Godager, Geir & Wiesen, Daniel, 2011. "Profit or Patients' Health Benefit? Exploring the Heterogeneity in Physician Altruism," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2011:7, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
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  16. Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Reinhard Selten & Daniel Wiesen, 2009. "How Payment Systems Affect Physicians´ Provision Behaviour – An Experimental Investigation," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse29_2009, University of Bonn, Germany.
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