General medical care in the United States has historically been provided by physicians who care for their patients in both ambulatory and hospital settings. Care is now increasingly divided between physicians specializing in hospital care (hospitalists) and ambulatory-based care primary care physicians. We develop and find strong empirical support for a theoretical model of the division of labor in general medicine that views the use of hospitalists as balancing the costs of coordinating care across physicians in the hospitalist model against physicians’ costs switching between ambulatory and hospital settings in the traditional model. Our findings suggest opportunities to improve care.
Competition and prospective payment systems have been widely used to attempt to control health care costs. Though much of the increase in medical costs over the past half-century has been concentrated among a few high-cost users of health care,prospective payment systems may provide incentives to selectively reduce expenditures on high-cost users relative to low-cost users and this pressure may be increased by competition. We use data on hospital charges and cost-to-charge ratios from California in 1983 and 1993 to examine the effects of competition on costs for high and low cost admissions before and after the establishment of the Medicare Prospective Payment System (PPS). Comparing persons above and below age 65 before and after the establishment of PPS, we find that competition is assoc...
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