Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

HERO Online Working Paper Series,
University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme

No 2009:3: Birds of a Feather Flock Together: A Study of Doctor-Patient Matching

Geir Godager ()
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Geir Godager: Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, Postal: HERO / Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, P.O. Box 1089 Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway

Abstract: In this paper we study individuals' choice of general practitioners (GPs) utilizing revealed preferences data from the introduction of a regular general practitioner scheme in Norway. Having information on relevant travel distances, we compute decision makers' travel costs associated with different modes of travel. Choice probabilities are estimated by means of nested logit regression on a representative sample of Oslo inhabitants. The results support the general hypothesis that patients prefer doctors who resemble themselves on observable characteristics: Individuals prefer GPs having the same gender and similar age. Specialist status of GPs was found to have a smaller effect on choice probabilities than other attributes such as matching gender. When travel costs are calculated by means of taxi prices, the estimated willingness to pay for specialist status of a GP amounts to € 0.89 per consultation, whereas the estimated willingness to pay for having a GP with the same gender amounts to respectively € 1.71 and € 3.55 for female and male decision makers, respectively.

Keywords: GP services; Discrete choice; Willingness-to-pay; Health care demand

JEL-codes: C25; C83; D12; I11

26 pages, May 5, 2009

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