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Keywords:

  • DRGs;
  • price effects;
  • for-profit;
  • hospital behaviour;
  • prospective payment

ABSTRACT

This study investigates whether the diagnosis-related group (DRG)-based payment method motivates hospitals to adjust output mix in order to maximise profits. The hypothesis is that when there is an increase in profitability of a DRG, hospitals will increase the proportion of that DRG (own-price effects) and decrease those of other DRGs (cross-price effects), except in cases where there are scope economies in producing two different DRGs. This conjecture is tested in the context of the case payment scheme (CPS) under Taiwan's National Health Insurance programme over the period of July 1999 to December 2004. To tackle endogeneity of DRG profitability and treatment policy, a fixed-effects three-stage least squares method is applied. The results support the hypothesised own-price and cross-price effects, showing that DRGs which share similar resources appear to be complements rather substitutes. For-profit hospitals do not appear to be more responsive to DRG profitability, possibly because of their institutional characteristics and bonds with local communities. The key conclusion is that DRG-based payments will encourage a type of ‘product-range’ specialisation, which may improve hospital efficiency in the long run. However, further research is needed on how changes in output mix impact patient access and pay-outs of health insurance. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.