NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Hai Fang

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Working Papers and Chapters

September 2008Demanding Customers: Consumerist Patients and Quality of Care
with Nolan H. Miller, John A. Rizzo, Richard J. Zeckhauser: w14350
Consumerism arises when patients acquire and use medical information from sources apart from their physicians, such as the Internet and direct-to-patient advertising. Consumerism has been hailed as a means of improving quality. This need not be the result. Consumerist patients place additional demands on their doctors' time, thus imposing a negative externality on other patients. Our theoretical model has the physician treat both consumerist and ordinary patient under a binding time budget. Relative to a world in which consumerism does not exist, consumerism is never Pareto improving, and in some cases harms both consumerist and ordinary patients. Data from a large national survey of physicians shows that high levels of consumerism are associated with lower perceived quality. Three...

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