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Discrimination in Health Care: A Field Experiment on the Impact of Patients’ Socioeconomic Status on Access to Care

Silvia Angerer (), Christian Waibel and Harald Stummer
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Silvia Angerer: UMIT—Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Institute for Management and Economics in Healthcare
Christian Waibel: ETH Zurich
Harald Stummer: UMIT—Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Institute for Management and Economics in Healthcare, University Seeburg Castle, Institut für Gesundheitsmanagement und Innovation

American Journal of Health Economics, 2019, vol. 5, issue 4, 407-427

Abstract: We employ a large-scale field experiment to investigate the impact of patients’ socioeconomic status on access to care. We request an appointment at more than 1,200 physicians in Austria, varying the educational level of the patient. Our results show that overall patients with a university degree receive an appointment significantly more often than patients without a degree. Differentiating between practice assistants and physicians as responders, we find that physicians provide significantly shorter response times and marginally significant shorter waiting times for appointments for patients with than without a university degree. Our results thus provide unambiguous evidence that discrimination by health providers contributes to the gradient in access to care. Furthermore, we argue that our results are consistent with implicit bias for practice assistants and statistical discrimination based on financial incentives for physicians.

Keywords: access to health care; SES health gradient; discrimination; field experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 I14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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