Farbmacher, Helmut (11. Juli 2009): Copayments for doctor visits in Germany and the probability of visiting a physician - Evidence from a natural experiment. Münchener Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Beiträge (VWL) 2009-10




The German health care reform of 2004 imposes a charge of 10 Euro for the first visit to a doctor in each quarter of the year. At first glance, there is no inhibiting effect of this fee on utilization in the German Socio-Economic Panel. However, this study reveals that the true effect is diluted by a special characteristic of the fee. Exploiting random variation in the interview date, this study finds a substantial effect of the new fee on the probability of visiting a physician. In addition, the identification strategy makes it possible to disentangle this effect from the influence of the contemporaneous increase of copayments for prescription drugs.