Incentives to patients versus incentives to health care providers: The users' perspective

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In theory, health care providers may adapt their professional behavior to the financial incentives resulting from their remuneration. Our research question is whether the users of health care services anticipate such behavior from their general practitioner (GP) and, if they do, what consequences such anticipation has on their preferences regarding financial incentives. Our theoretical model explains users' preferences for one or another incentives scheme, disentangling the financial motives (incentives amounts, wealth) from the behavioral ones (perceived GPs' sensitivity to incentives). We empirically test our theoretical predictions using data from a survey that elicits individual preferences for either patient or provider hypothetical incentives in France. The empirical results confirm the theoretical ones: users tend to prefer incentives to patients rather than to GPs when the amount of GP incentives is high, when the amount of patient incentives is low, when they anticipate that their GP's medical decisions are affected by financial incentives or when their wealth is high. Otherwise, they prefer their GP to face financial incentives.

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