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Does increasing access-to-care delay accessing of care? Evidence from kidney transplantation

Sarah Stith and Xiaoxue Li ()

Economics & Human Biology, 2021, vol. 41, issue C

Abstract: Policies increasing healthcare availability might decrease the cost of delaying accessing of care, leading to potential negative consequences if patients delay treatment. We analyze a policy designed to increase access to kidney transplantation through the use of time since dialysis inception to prioritize patients for transplant, which was piloted at 26 of the 271 kidney transplant centers in the United States in 2006 and 2007. We model the patient’s optimization problem comparing the benefits and costs of early waitlisting and predict that the policy change will lead to delayed waitlisting. To empirically test this prediction, we use difference-in-differences fixed effects panel regression techniques to analyze data on patients who began dialysis between 1/1/2000 and 12/31/2009. The results support the model’s prediction; patients on dialysis who waitlist for kidney transplantation increase pre-waitlist dialysis duration by 11.6 percent or approximately 76 days from a pre-policy mean of 652 days (SD = 654). With regard to waitlist outcomes, the policy is associated with a 4.5 percentage point decrease in the probability of receiving a deceased donor transplant, somewhat offset by a 3.0 percentage point increase in the probability of receiving a live donor transplant. On the extensive margin, patients on dialysis decrease their likelihood of ever waitlisting by 1.5 percentage points. We find an increase in pre-waitlist dialysis time and a decrease in the likelihood of waitlisting at all, especially among populations likely to have experienced increased access to transplantation through the policy change: patients self-identifying as Black or Hispanic rather than Non-Hispanic White, and patients without private insurance. These results suggest that some individuals may not benefit if their access to care increases, if the increase in access sufficiently decreases the penalty of delaying accessing of care.

Keywords: Access-to-care; Healthcare decision-making; Kidney transplantation; Dialysis; Donor organ allocation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 I14 J18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2020.100961

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