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Effects of Geographical Accessibility on the Use of Outpatient Care Services: Quasi‐Experimental Evidence from Panel Count Data

Péter Elek, Balázs Váradi and Márton Varga

Health Economics, 2015, vol. 24, issue 9, 1131-1146

Abstract: In 2010–2012, new outpatient service locations were established in Hungarian micro‐regions, which had lacked such capacities before. We exploit this quasi‐experiment to estimate the effect of geographical accessibility on outpatient case numbers using both individual‐level and semi‐aggregate panel data. We find a 24–27 per cent increase of case numbers as a result of the establishments. Our specialty‐by‐specialty estimates imply that a 1‐min reduction of travel time to the nearest outpatient unit increases case numbers for example by 0.9 per cent in internal care and 3.1 per cent in rheumatology. The size of the new outpatient capacities has a separate effect, raising the possibility of the presence of supplier‐induced demand. By combining a fixed‐effects logit and a fixed‐effects truncated Poisson estimator, we decompose the effects into increases in the probability of ever visiting a doctor on the one hand and an increase of the frequency of visits on the other hand. We find that new visits were dominant in the vast majority of specialties, whereas both margins were important for example in rheumatology. Finally, we demonstrate the usefulness of the fixed‐effects truncated Poisson estimator in modelling count data by examining its robustness by simulations. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Date: 2015
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