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Health Services as Credence Goods - A Field Experiment

On 26th June 2017 (1-2pm) Dr. Christian Waibel, postdoc at the department for Management, Technology and Economics at the ETH Zurich, will give a presentation about “Health Services as Credence Goods - A Field Experiment" in Q4.245. Afterwards, Mr. Waibel will be available for questions and discussions. His presentation is part of


Information problems are a defining characteristic in health care markets. Despite their importance, there is little direct evidence of the impact of information problems between patients and physicians on the quality of treatment. Furthermore, the role of market characteristics such as competition intensity is not well understood. In this paper, we present the results from a field experiment in the market for dental care. A test patient who does not require treatment is sent to 180 dentists to receive treatment recommendations. In the experiment, we vary two factors: First, the extent of the information asymmetry between patient and dentist. Second, we vary the perceived Socioeconomic status (SES) of the test patient. Furthermore, we collect data to construct several measures of short- and long-term demand and competition as well as dentist and practice characteristics. We find that the patient receives an overtreatment  recommendation in more than every fourth visit. A low short-term demand, indicating excess capacities, leads to significantly more overtreatment recommendations. Physician density and their price level however do not have a significant effect on overtreatment. Furthermore, we observe significantly less overtreatment recommendations for the patient with higher compared to lower SES under standard information. More information however does not significantly affect overtreatment.



The University for the Information Society