How Effective are Pay-for-Performance Incentives for Physicians? - A Laboratory Experiment
36 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2013
Date Written: April 2, 2013
Recent reforms in health care have introduced a variety of pay-for-performance programs using financial incentives for physicians to improve the quality of care. Their effectiveness is, however, ambiguous as it is often difficult to disentangle the effect of financial incentives from the ones of various other simultaneous changes in the system. In this study we investigate the effects of introducing financial pay-for-performance incentives with the help of controlled laboratory experiments. In particular, we use fee-for-service and capitation as baseline payment schemes and test how additional pay-for-performance incentives affect the medical treatment of different patient types. Our results reveal that, on average, patients significantly benefit from introducing pay-for performance, independently of whether it is combined with capitation or fee-for-service incentives. The magnitude of this effect is significantly influenced by the patient type, though. These results hold for medical and non-medical students. A cost-benefit analysis further demonstrates that, overall, the increase in patient benefits cannot overcompensate the additional costs associated with pay-for-performance. Moreover, our analysis of individual data reveals different types of responses to pay-for-performance incentives. We find some indication that pay-for performance might crowd out the intrinsic motivation to care for patients. These insights help to understand the effects caused by introducing pay-for-performance schemes.
Keywords: Physician incentive schemes, pay-for-performance, fee-for-service, capitation, laboratory experiment
JEL Classification: C91, I11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation