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Sticking points: common‐agency problems and contracting in the US healthcare system

Brigham Frandsen, Michael Powell and James B. Rebitzer

RAND Journal of Economics, 2019, vol. 50, issue 2, 251-285

Abstract: We propose a “common‐agency” model for explaining inefficient contracting in the US healthcare system. Common‐agency problems arise when multiple payers seek to motivate a provider to invest in improved care coordination. We highlight the possibility of “sticking points,” that is, Pareto‐dominated equilibria in which payers coordinate around contracts which give weak incentives to the provider. Sticking points rationalize three hard‐to‐explain features of the US healthcare system: widespread fee‐for‐service arrangements; problematic care coordination; and the historical reliance on single‐specialty practices to deliver care. The model also analyzes the effects of policies promoting more efficient contracting between payers and providers.

Date: 2019
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Working Paper: Sticking Points: Common-Agency Problems and Contracting in the U.S. Healthcare System (2017) Downloads
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