Competition in general practice: Prescriptions to the elderly in a list patient system
Inger Cathrine Kann, Erik Biørn and Hilde Lurås
Journal of health economics, 2010, vol 29 hefte 5
Income motivation among general practitioners (GPs) is frequently discussed in the health economics literature. The question addressed in the present study on reimbursement drugs and addictive drugs is whether increased competition among GPs, which is part of a declared health policy to improve efficiency, contributes to more prescriptions for the elderly. The dataset comprises registered data of all prescribed drugs dispensed at pharmacies from the Norwegian Prescription Database merged with data on GPs. In choosing a method, particular attention is given to the fact that patients tend to be attracted to GPs who fit their preferences. Hence, we treat the composition of the patient list as endogenous. The results indicate that the stronger competition a GP faces, the more drugs are prescribed, which implies that GPs’ prescription style may conflict with their role as gatekeepers, and even worse, it may be a hazard to patients’ health.