Wednesday, July 15, 2020
High and increasing hospital prices have led to calls for price regulation. If prices are high because of consolidation, regulating prices could enhance welfare. However, high prices could also reflect increased willingness to pay by privately insured consumers for clinical and non-clinical quality. If so, regulating prices could reduce quality. We present a model of strategic quality choice where hospitals make quality investments to increase private revenue. We confirm the model's predictions across numerous quality measures including patient satisfaction, hospital processes, risk adjusted mortality, the revealed preferences of current Medicare patients, technology adoption, physician quality, and ED wait times.