The influence of insurance status on waiting times in German acute care hospitals: An empirical analysis of new data

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Abstract

Background. There is an ongoing debate in Germany about the assumption that patients with private health insurance (PHI) benefit from better access to medical care, including shorter waiting times (Lüngen et al. 2008), compared to patients with statutory health insurance (SHI). Problem. Existing analyses of the determinants for waiting times in Germany are a) based on patient self-reports and b) do not cover the inpatient sector. This paper aims to fill both gaps by (i) generating new primary data and (ii) analyzing waiting times in German hospitals. Methods. We requested individual appointments from 485 hospitals within an experimental study design, allowing us to analyze the impact of PHI versus SHI on waiting times (Asplin et al. 2005). Results. In German acute care hospitals patients with PHI have significantly shorter waiting times than patients with SHI. Conclusion. Discrimination in waiting times by insurance status does occur in the German acute hospital sector. Since there is very little transparency in treatment quality in Germany, we do not know whether discrimination in waiting times leads to discrimination in the quality of treatment. This is an important issue for future research. © 2009 Kuchinke et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Kuchinke, B. A., Sauerland, D., & Wübker, A. (2009). The influence of insurance status on waiting times in German acute care hospitals: An empirical analysis of new data. International Journal for Equity in Health, 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-9276-8-44

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