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Policy induced increases in private healthcare financing provide short-term relief of total healthcare expenditure growth: Evidence from OECD countries

Steffen Eriksen and Rasmus Wiese

European Journal of Political Economy, 2019, vol. 59, issue C, 71-82

Abstract: Healthcare reforms have long been advocated as a cure to the increasing healthcare expenditures in advanced economies. Nevertheless, it has not been established whether a market solution via private financing, rather than public financing, curb aggregate healthcare expenditures. To our knowledge, this paper is the first that quantifies the impact of reforms that significantly increases (decreases) the private (public) share of healthcare financing on total healthcare expenditures relative to income in 20 OECD countries. Our reform measure is based on structural break testing of the private share of total expenditures, and verification using evidence of policy reforms. To quantify the effect of these reforms we apply Propensity Score Matching and Inverse Probability Weighted regression analysis. Over a 5-year evaluation period the reforms lead to an accumulated cost saving 0.45 percentage points of GDP. The yearly effects of the reforms are largest in the first years in the post-reform period and decreases in size as a function of time since the reform. Our findings suggest that the investigated healthcare reforms have a relatively short-lived effect on aggregate health spending relative to GDP. The findings are robust to various sensitivity tests.

Keywords: Health care reform; Health care financing; Health expenditures; OECD countries (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H51 I13 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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