Fee-for-service payment is not the (main) problem

Bryan E. Dowd, Miriam J. Laugesen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To understand the effect of physician payment incentives on the allocation of health care resources. Data Sources/Study Setting: Review and analysis of the literature on physician payment incentives. Study Design: Analysis of current physician payment incentives and several ways to modify those incentives to encourage increased efficiency. Principal Findings: Fee-for-service payments can be incorporated into systems that encourage efficient pricing – prices that are close to the provider's marginal cost – by giving consumers information on provider-specific prices and a strong incentive to choose lower cost providers. However, efficient pricing of services ultimately will need to be supplemented by incentives for efficient production of health and functional status. Conclusions: The problem with current FFS payment is not paying a fee for each service, per se, but the way in which the fees are determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-495
Number of pages5
JournalHealth services research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Joint Acknowledgment/Disclosure Statement: DOWD?No financial or material support, no further acknowledgements. LAUGESEN?Support from Tow Foundation and the National Institute of Healthcare Management Foundation. No further acknowledgments.

Publisher Copyright:
© Health Research and Educational Trust


  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Medicare
  • fee-for-service
  • fees
  • health care expenditure
  • payment reform
  • physicians
  • reimbursement


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