Consumer Health Information and the Demand for Physician Visits

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The present study empirically investigates the effect of consumer health information on the demand for physician visits. Using a direct information measure based on questions from the Swiss Health Survey, we estimate a Poisson hurdle model for office visits. We find that information has a negative effect on health care utilization, contradicting previous findings in the literature. We consider differences in the used information measures to be the most likely explanation for the different findings. However, our results suggest that increasing consumer health information has the potential to reduce health care expenditures. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

JEL classification: I11; I18; C24

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