Healthcare consumers’ sensitivity to costs: a reflection on behavioural economics from an emerging market

Palgrave Communications 4:70 (2018)
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Abstract

Decision-making regarding healthcare expenditure hinges heavily on an individual's health status and the certainty about the future. This study uses data on propensity of general health exam (GHE) spending to show that despite the debate on the necessity of GHE, its objective is clear—to obtain more information and certainty about one’s health so as to minimise future risks. Most studies on this topic, however, focus only on factors associated with GHE uptake and overlook the shifts in behaviours and attitudes regarding different levels of cost. To fill the gap, this study analyses a dataset of 2068 subjects collected from Hanoi (Vietnam) and its vicinities using the baseline-category logit method. We evaluate the sensitivity of Vietnamese healthcare consumers against two groups of factors (demographic and socioeconomic-cognitive) regarding payment for periodic GHE, which is not covered by insurance. Our study shows that uninsured, married and employed individuals are less sensitive to cost than their counterparts because they value the information in reducing future health uncertainty. The empirical results challenge the objections to periodic health screening by highlighting its utility. The relevance of behavioural economics is further highlighted through a look at the bounded rationality of healthcare consumers and private insurance companies in using and providing the service, respectively.

Author Profiles

H. Nguyen
Northwestern University
Quan-Hoang Vuong
Phenikaa University

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