Sorting into Physician Payment Schemes – A Laboratory Experiment
23 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015
Date Written: December 17, 2014
Most common physician payment schemes include some form of traditional capitation or fee-for-service payment. While health economics research often focuses on direct incentive effects of these payments, we demonstrate that the opportunity to sort into one’s preferred payment scheme may also significantly affect medical treatment. Our study is based on an experiment testing individual sorting into fee-for-service and capitation payment under controlled laboratory conditions. A sequential design allows differentiating between sorting and incentive effects. We find a strong preference for fee-for-service payment, independent of subjects’ prior experience with one of the two payment schemes. Our behavioral classification reveals that subjects who select into capitation deviate less from patient-optimal treatment than those who prefer fee-for-service payment. Moreover, comparing subjects’ behavior before and after introducing the choice option, we find that subjects preferring fee-for-service become even less patient-oriented after this introduction. As a result, the opportunity to choose a payment scheme does not improve, but - if at all - worsens patient treatment in our experiment. Our findings stress the importance of acknowledging potential sorting and incentive effects in the analysis of physician payment schemes.
Keywords: physician incentives; fee-for-service; capitation; payment choice; sorting eff ects; laboratory experiment
JEL Classification: C91, D84, E03
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation