Tackling Excessive Waiting Times for Elective Surgery: A Comparison of Policies in Twelve OECD Countries

Waiting times tend to be formed in countries which combine public health insurance (with zero or low cost sharing) and constraints on surgical capacity. Under such circumstances non-price rationing in the form of waiting lists takes over from price rationing as a means of equilibrating supply and demand. Optimum waiting times will not be zero. It is argued that, in principle, waiting times can be reduced through supply-side policies, if the volume of surgery is not considered adequate, or through demand-side policies, if the volume of surgery is considered to be adequate.

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