Susan Mendez, Melbourne Institute: Freezing in Australia? Funding freeze, competition and physicians’ behaviours

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Title: Freezing in Australia? Funding freeze, competition and physicians’ behaviours

Abstract: How does government funding affect physician behaviour? To answer this question, we consider how general practitioners (GPs) adjust their fees, quantity and quality of care to a four-year freeze in the indexation of subsidies that the Australian government pays for medical services provided by GPs. GP markets in Australia are competitive, with no patient enrolment, no control over GP practice locations, and prices being freely set by GPs. Using a quasi-experimental continuous difference in difference design, we test if the fee freeze was more likely to influence GPs facing more competition before the fee freeze was introduced. We use eleven waves (2008 to 2018) of detailed individual doctor-level panel data from a representative sample of over 5,000 GPs from the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) panel survey. This includes self-reported data on prices, volume and bulk-billing. Additionally, we link survey information with administrative data from the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for a subsample of 1,000 GPs that includes high-frequency data on prices charged, volume, and bulk-billing for every service billed between 2012 and 2019.

Presenter: Susan J. Méndez, Melbourne Institute

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