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Medical insurance and free choice of physician shape patient overtreatment: A laboratory experiment

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  • Huck, Steffen
  • Lünser, Gabriele
  • Spitzer, Florian
  • Tyran, Jean-Robert

Abstract

In a laboratory experiment designed to capture key aspects of the interaction between physicians and patients in a stylized way, we study the effects of medical insurance and competition in the guise of free choice of physician. Medical treatment is an example of a credence good: only the physician (but not the patient) knows the appropriate treatment, and even after consulting, the patient is not sure whether he got proper treatment or got an unnecessary treatment, i.e. was overtreated. We find that with insurance, moral hazard looms on both sides of the market: patients consult more often and physicians overtreat more often than in the baseline condition. Competition decreases overtreatment compared to the baseline and patients therefore consult more often. When the two institutions are combined, competition is found to partially offset the adverse effects of insurance: most patients seek treatment, but overtreatment is moderated.
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  • Huck, Steffen & Lünser, Gabriele & Spitzer, Florian & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2014. "Medical insurance and free choice of physician shape patient overtreatment: A laboratory experiment," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2014-307, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2014307
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    Cited by:

    1. Mimra, Wanda & Rasch, Alexander & Waibel, Christian, 2016. "Second opinions in markets for expert services: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PB), pages 106-125.
    2. Brosig-Koch, Jeannette & Hehenkamp, Burkhard & Kokot, Johanna, 2016. "The effects of competition on medical service provision," Ruhr Economic Papers 647, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    3. Hafner, Lucas & Reif, Simon & Seebauer, Michael, 2017. "Physician behavior under prospective payment schemes: Evidence from artefactual field and lab experiments," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 18/2017, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private

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