Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers in Economics,
University of Bergen, Department of Economics

No 10/12: Hospital Capacity, Waiting Times and Sick Leave Duration - an Empirical Analysis of a Norwegian Health Policy Reform

Arild Aakvik (), Tor Helge Holmås () and Egil Kjerstad ()
Additional contact information
Arild Aakvik: Department of Economics, University of Bergen
Tor Helge Holmås: UniRokkansenteret
Egil Kjerstad: UniRokkansenteret

Abstract: A health policy reform aiming to reduce hospital waiting times and sickness absences, the Faster Return to Work (FRW) scheme, is evaluated by creating treatment and control groups to facilitate causal interpretations of the empirical results. We use a unique dataset on individuals where we match hospital data with social security data and socio-economic characteristics. The main idea behind the reform is that long waiting times for hospital treatment lead to unnecessarily long periods of sick leave. We find that the waiting period for treatment or consultation for FRW patients is 12–15 days shorter than for people on sick leave on the regular waiting list. This reduction is only partially transformed into a reduction in the total length of sick leave. On average, the reduction is approximately eight days. There is a significant difference between surgical and non-surgical patients.

Keywords: waiting times; length of sick leave; policy reform and econometric evaluation

JEL-codes: C21; H51; I12

22 pages, August 15, 2012

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