Does a mandatory telemedicine call prior to visiting a physician reduce costs or simply attract good risks?
Chantal Grandchamp and
Lucien Gardiol ()
No 801, Working Papers from University of Lausanne, Institute of Health Economics and Management (IEMS)
This paper aims to estimate empirically the efficiency of a Swiss telemedicine service introduced in 2003. We used claims' data gathered by a major Swiss health insurer, over a period of six years and involving 160 000 insured adults. In Switzerland, health insurance is mandatory, but everyone has the option of choosing between a managed care plan and a fee-for-service plan. The present paper focuses on a conventional fee-for-service plan including a mandatory access to a telemedicine service; the insured are obliged to phone this medical call centre prior to visiting a physician. This type of plan generates much lower average health expenditures than a conventional insurance plan. Reasons for this may include selection, incentive effects or simply efficiency. In our sample, about 90% of the difference in health expenditure can be explained by selection and incentive effects. The remaining 10% of savings due to the efficiency of the telemedicine service amount to about SFr 150 per year per insured, of which approx. 60% is saved by the insurer and 40% by the insured. While the plan is cost-effective, the big winners are the insured who not only save monetary and non-monetary costs, but also benefit from reduced premiums.
Keywords: health; insurance; selection; efficiency; telemedicine (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I11 D12 C21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Journal Article: Does a mandatory telemedicine call prior to visiting a physician reduce costs or simply attract good risks? (2011)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:hem:wpaper:0801
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