Objectives: Global budget programs are utilized in many countries to control soaring healthcare expenditures. The present study was designed to evaluate the responses of Taiwanese hospitals to a new global budget program implemented in 2002. Methods: Using data obtained from the Bureau of National Health Insurance (NHI) and two nationwide surveys conducted before and after the global budget program, changes in the length of stay, treatment intensity, insurance claims, and out-of-pocket fees were compared in 2002 and 2004. The analysis was conducted using the Generalized Estimating Equations (GEEs) method. Results: Regression models revealed that implementation of the global budget was followed by a 7% increase in length of stay and a 15% increase in the number of prescribed procedures and medications per admission. The claim expenses increased by 14%, and out-of-pocket fees per admission increased by 6%. Among the hospitals, no coalition action was found during the study period. Conclusions: In the present study, it appears that hospitals attempted to increase per-case expense claims to protect their reimbursement from possible discounts under a global budget cap. How Taiwanese hospitals respond to this challenge in the future deserves continued, long-term observation. © 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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