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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the implications of using waiting times, rather than co-payments, as a rationing device. It discusses theoretical issues, empirical and policy issues, and the meaning of an optimal waiting time. The theoretical part includes theories concentrating on the demand side and the supply side. The empirical part contains studies on the implied cost of waiting from market data and estimates of demand and supply elasticities. This article states that in the absence of an over-arching welfare analysis both empirical work and policy recommendations are inevitably piecemeal and open to debate. It also describes the relationship between waiting times and the private sector. It investigates the effectiveness of different policy instruments. Finally, it suggests issues for future research.

Keywords: waiting times, co-payments, rationing device, supply elasticities, private sector

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