Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 3, 2011

Insurance, Consumer Choice, and the Equilibrium Price and Quality of Hospital Care

Michael L Katz

Abstract

I analyze price and quality competition in a model that captures important institutional features of U.S. hospital markets. I first consider duopoly hospitals serving a population of patients who are covered by insurance that their employers purchase from duopoly health plans. I show that second-best quality levels can be sustained as equilibrium outcomes under both indemnity insurance and managed care even when patients are fully insured. I also demonstrate that a monopoly hospital system can yield efficient quality levels and that prices may be lower under monopoly than duopoly even when there are no technical efficiencies associated with monopoly. The latter result arises when employers and health insurance plans view the hospitals as complements even though any given consumer views them as substitutes.

Published Online: 2011-1-3

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston