Waiting Lists and Patient Selection


  • This research has been partially financed by PRAXIS XXI/13132 (Pedro P. Barros) and BEC2000-0172, BEC2003-01132, SGR2001-00162, and the Barcelona Economics Progamme of CREA (Pau Olivella). The authors thank Roberto Burguet, Izabela Jelovac, Matilde Pinto Machado, Inés Macho-Stadler, Xavier Martínez-Giralt, Jorge Mestre, Manouche Tavakoli, Marcos Vera, and Vasco Santos, as well as two anonymous referees and a co-editor, for their comments and suggestions. Any remaining errors are the authors' responsibility.


We develop a positive model of waiting lists for public hospitals when physicians are able to divert patients from the public to the private sector. Public treatment is free but rationed, i.e., only cases meeting some medical criteria are admitted. Private treatment has no waiting time but entails payment of a fee. Physicians and patients take into account that each patient treated in the private practice reduces the waiting list for public treatment. We show that physicians do not necessarily end up treating the mildest cases from the waiting list. Our analysis is valid for a wide class of doctors' utility functions.