Sticking points: common-agency problems and contracting in the US healthcare system

Brigham Frandsen, Michael Powell, James B. Rebitzer

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Abstract

We propose a “common-agency” model for explaining inefficient contracting in the US healthcare system. Common-agency problems arise when multiple payers seek to motivate a provider to invest in improved care coordination. We highlight the possibility of “sticking points,” that is, Pareto-dominated equilibria in which payers coordinate around contracts which give weak incentives to the provider. Sticking points rationalize three hard-to-explain features of the US healthcare system: widespread fee-for-service arrangements; problematic care coordination; and the historical reliance on single-specialty practices to deliver care. The model also analyzes the effects of policies promoting more efficient contracting between payers and providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalRAND Journal of Economics
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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