Assessing hospital competition when prices don’t matter to patients: the use of time-elasticities

  • Marco Varkevisser
  • Stéphanie A. van der Geest
  • Frederik T. Schut
Open Access
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10754-009-9070-6

Cite this article as:
Varkevisser, M., van der Geest, S.A. & Schut, F.T. Int J Health Care Finance Econ (2010) 10: 43. doi:10.1007/s10754-009-9070-6

Abstract

Health care reforms in several European countries provide health insurers with incentives and tools to become prudent purchasers of health care. The potential success of this strategy crucially depends on insurers’ bargaining leverage vis-à-vis health care providers. An important determinant of insurers’ bargaining power is the willingness of consumers to consider alternative providers. In this paper we examine to what extent consumers are willing to switch hospitals when they are fully covered for hospital services, which is typical for many European countries. Since prices do not matter to these patients, we estimate time-elasticities to assess hospital substitutability. Using data from a large Dutch health insurer on non-emergency neurosurgical outpatient hospital visits in 2003, we estimate a conditional logit model of patient hospital choice taking both patient heterogeneity and hospital characteristics into account. We use the parameter estimates to simulate the demand effect of an artificial increase in travel time by 10% for every patient, holding all other hospital attributes constant. Overall, the resulting point estimates of hospitals’ time-elasticities are fairly high, although variation is substantial (−2.6 to −1.4). Sensitivity tests reveal that these estimates are very robust and differ significantly across individual hospitals. This implies that all hospitals in our study sample have at least one close substitute which is an important precondition for effective hospital competition.

Keywords

Hospital competition Time elasticities Patient choice Health care reform 

JEL Classification

C25 I11 D12 
Download to read the full article text

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Varkevisser
    • 1
  • Stéphanie A. van der Geest
    • 1
  • Frederik T. Schut
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Health Policy & Management (iBMG)Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations