Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 12/2015: Socioeconomic Status and Physicians’ Treatment Decisions.

Kurt R. Brekke (), Tor Helge Holmås (), Karin Monstad () and Odd Rune Straume ()
Additional contact information
Kurt R. Brekke: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Tor Helge Holmås: Uni Rokkan Centre, Postal: Uni Rokkan Centre, Nygårdsgaten 5, N-5015 Bergen, Norway, Health Economics Bergen (HEB), Norway
Karin Monstad: Uni Rokkan Centre, Postal: Uni Rokkan Centre, Nygårdsgaten 5, N-5015 Bergen, Norway, Health Economics Bergen (HEB), Norway
Odd Rune Straume: University of Minho and University of Bergen, Postal: Department of Economics/NIPE, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal

Abstract: This paper aims at shedding light on the social gradient by studying the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and provision of health care. Using administrative data on services provided by General Practitioners (GPs) in Norway over a …ve year period (2008- 12), we analyse the quantity, composition and value of services provided by the GPs according to patients’SES measured by education, income or ethnicity. Our data allow us to control for a wide set of patient and GP characteristics. To account for (unobserved) heterogeneity, we limit the sample to patients with a speci…c disease, diabetes type 2, and estimate a model with GP …xed e¤ects. Our results show that patients with low SES visit the GPs more often, but the value of services provided per visit is lower. The composition of services varies with SES, where patients with low education and African or Asian ethnicity receive more medical tests but shorter consultations, whereas patients with low income receive both shorter consultations and fewer tests. Thus, our results show that GPs differentiate services according to SES, but give no clear evidence for a social gradient in health care provision.

Keywords: Socio-economic status; Primary care; General Practitioners.

JEL-codes: I11; I14; I18

27 pages, May 29, 2015

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