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  • P-ISSN 1738-656X

한국개발연구. Vol. 30, No. 2, December 2008, pp. 129-155

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The Effect of the Degree of Competition of the Hospital Market Regions on Clinic's Rate of Antibiotics Prescription

Chang ik Jo; Jae-Young Lim; Soo Yeon Lee

Author & Article History

Manuscript .


The rate of antibiotics prescription for an acute airway infection significantly varies depending upon the diagnosis type, specialty, and the location of the hospital along with many other related factors. The objective of this study is to empirically investigate the possible relationship between the antibiotics prescription rates for an acute airway infection and the degree of competition in the hospital market regions of mainly the providers of primary medical care services such as clinics, internal medicines, pediatrics and otorhinolaryngology department. Using the data from Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA) regarding the hospitals' antibiotics prescription rates for the acute airway infection and controlling for selected variables of demand and supply sectors, this study tries to figure out that the degree of competition in the hospital market, regardless of what type of competition indexes we employed, has a statistically significant effect on the variations of antibiotics prescription rate of the clinics in local areas. This result implies that as an economic consideration itself, the change in the degree of competition in the hospital market can play a crucial role influencing the treatment behaviors of the medical doctors. More specifically, this study reveals that as the degree of competition increases the antibiotics prescription rate goes up. This result means that if the market becomes more competitive in a specific region so that it might cause a reduction in doctor's income, doctors with rational decision-making process, recognize that the benefit created from inducing patients' seemingly unnecessary demand for medical care (income effect) would be higher than the costs associated with sustaining their targeted income (substitution effect). It is because that the doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics which create relatively higher margins than other medical care services in order to sustain their targeted income when the hospital market competition becomes tighter. Even though this study empirically confirms that antibiotics prescription can be affected by the economic incentives, it still raises following issues as limitations of the study: first issue is about the representativeness of the hospital regions segregated for this study, which might be weak in explaining whether these regions are mutually exclusive in reality. Patients actually consider the quality of services, transportation cost, time costs, and any other related factors choosing the doctors or hospitals, and in that sense, this study rules out 'border-crossing' in using the medical care services. Second issue arises in capturing the data of antibiotics prescription rate. Since we use the average rate for each medical institution, we cannot figure out the average rate for each patient so that we are not able to control for the variation of patients' medical conditions. It is because of the unavailability of data regarding each patient's medical condition from HIRA. Thirdly, since this study mainly analyzes the medical institutions providing primary care such as clinics, internal medicines, pediatrics, and otorhinolaryngology department, it is skeptical of whether those institutions can represent the hospital market in respective regions and truly reflect the degree of competition. It needs to extend the study areas and disease types as well as any micro data for future studies.


항생제 처방률(Antibiotics prescription rate), 경쟁수준(Degree of competition), 지역 간 변이(Variations by regions), 소득효과(Income effect), 대체효과(Substitution effect)

JEL Code

I11, L25

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