Health Care Management Papers

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Journal Article

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Publication Source

International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics





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This paper proposes a novel model of the hospital industry in the United States in which firms in effect choose their ownership type and the regulatory and tax regimes under which they must function. Accordingly, I develop a model in which firms have identical objectives but differ in their ability to benefit from a given ownership form. Changes in the economic environment alter firms’ incentives to maintain a given ownership type. This in turn induces firms to modify their capacity and encourages some firms to switch ownership type. One implication of this model is that changes in the economic environment that have occurred since 1960 imply that the optimal size of those firms which choose to be for profit should more closely approximate the optimal size of firms which choose to be nonprofit. Hospital level data indicate that this size convergence has indeed occurred. In 1960, U.S. nonprofit hospitals maintained on average more than three times as many beds per hospital as their for-profit counterparts; following a monotonic decline in relative size, by 2000, the average nonprofit hospital was only 32% larger than the typical for-profit hospital. Declining roles of government hospitals, population growth, suburbanization, and increasing government intervention in the healthcare market help explain the convergence in size. Analysis of data at the state and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) levels is consistent with the principal theoretical predictions.

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Nonprofit hospitals, mixed ownership equilibrium, convergence



Date Posted: 27 November 2017