Department of Economics
University of Delaware
Working Paper #2012-11
Payment Mechanisms in the Healthcare Industry: An Experimental Study of Physician Incentives in a Multiple Principal Agent Setting
Ellen P. GreenABSTRACT
Current failures in the healthcare industry emphasize the need for a more fundamental understanding of how these contracts incentivize doctors. To aid this understanding, we treat the established physician-client-employer relationship as a multiple principal agent problem. We use a laboratory experiment, with a real-effort task, to test the relative performance of common payment mechanisms employed in this dual-principal agent relationship (Piece Rate, Flat Rate, Salary, Bonus, and Socialization). This study suggests, contrary to standard contract theory, that relying on extrinsic incentives to motivate physicians may be detrimental and costly for the healthcare industry.
JEL Codes:I10, I12, I18, J01, J3, L2
Keywords: Multiple principal agent theory, intrinsic motivation, other-regarding behavior, Fee-For-Service, Capitation, Salary