NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Competition in Health Care Markets

Martin Gaynor, Robert J. Town

NBER Working Paper No. 17208
Issued in July 2011
NBER Program(s):   HC

This paper reviews the literature devoted to studying markets for health care services and health insurance. There has been tremendous growth and progress in this field. A tremendous amount of new research has been done in this area over the last 10 years. In addition, there has been increasing development and use of frontier industrial organization methods. We begin by examining research on the determinants of market structure, considering both static and dynamic models. We then model the strategic determination of prices between health insurers and providers where insurers market their products to consumers based, in part, on the quality and breadth of their provider network. We then review the large empirical literature on the strategic determination of hospital prices through the lens of this model. Variation in the quality of health care clearly can have large welfare consequences. We therefore also describe the theoretical and empirical literature on the impact of market structure on quality of health care. The paper then moves on to consider competition in health insurance markets and physician services markets. We conclude by considering vertical restraints and monopsony power.

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