Hospital Policy and Productivity – Evidence from German States

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Abstract

Total factor productivity (TFP) growth allows for additional healthcare services under restricted resources. We examine whether hospital policy can stimulate hospital TFP growth. We exploit variation across German federal states in the period 1993–2013. State governments decide on hospital capacity planning (number of hospitals, departments, and beds), ownership, medical students, and hospital investment funding. We show that TFP growth in German hospital care reflects quality improvements rather than increases in output volumes. Second-stage regression results indicate that reducing the length of stay is generally a proper way to foster TFP growth. The effects of other hospital policies depend on the reimbursement scheme: Under activity-based (German Diagnosis-related Group) hospital funding, scope-related policies (privatization and specialization) come with TFP growth. Under fixed daily rate funding, scale matters to TFP (hospital size and occupancy rates). Differences in capitalization in East and West Germany allow to show that deepening capital may enhance TFP growth if capital is scarce. We also show that there is less scope for hospital policies after large-scale restructurings of the hospital sector. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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