For-profit hospitals vs. not-for-profit hospitals

Via Twitter:

Sure! It’s common for health economics studies of hospital performance (cost, quality) to control for profit status. One relevant vein of literature is authored by Mark Schlesinger and Bradford Gray. See, for example, their 2006 paper in Health Affairs or this, related and ungated PDF, and the references therein. Another potential source is the 2003 literature review by Pauline Rosenau and Stephen Linder. Frank Sloan wrote the Health Economics Handbook chapter on non-profit hospital behavior. Perhaps there are more recent, key papers, though likely many of them would cite one of these, so you can use Google Scholar to help you there.

Related to this is my Kaiser Health News column with Rex Santerre.

Economic scholars have considered how the various organization types pursue alternative goals and behave differently regarding choices such as setting prices, quality and mix of patients (i.e., uninsured, Medicaid, Medicare, private-pay). Welfare-enhancing competitive effects along these dimensions have been observed in markets in which mixes of ownership type exist for certain kinds of health care organizations.

In the column, we note, with citations, the rule-of-thumb that for-profits focus on cost (pushing it lower) while non-profits focus on quality (pushing it higher). Of course that’s a generalization, and the extent to which they emphasize either varies by market, as we point out.

This, and whatever TIE’s knowledgeable readers offer in the comments or on Twitter, should be more than enough to get you started.


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