Explaining the Association Between Surgeon Supply and Utilization

Published in: Inquiry, v. 29, no. 4, Winter, 1992, p. 403-415

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1991

by Jose J. Escarce

Read More

Access further information on this document at www.inquiryjournal.org

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

This study uses Medicare enrollment and physician claims data to examine the effect of surgeon supply on the demand for surgeons' services. The specialties studied were ophthalmology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, and urology. The study found that higher surgeon supply increases the demand for initial contacts with surgeons (first-occurrences demand) but does not affect the demand for services among surgeons' patients (intensity-of-care demand). These findings suggest that a high supply of surgeons improves access or is associated with stronger preferences for referrals to surgeons. The findings offer little support for the hypothesis that a substantial component of the additional utilization that occurs when surgeons are plentiful is due to increases in physician-induced demand.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.