Göpffarth, D., Kopetsch, T., & Schmitz, H. (2016). Determinants of Regional Variation in Health Expenditures in Germany. Health Economics, 25(7), 801–815.
Health care expenditure in Germany shows clear regional differences. Such geographic variations are often seen as an indicator for inefficiency. With its homogeneous health care system, low co-payments and uniform prices, Germany is a particularly suited example to analyse regional variations. We use data for the year 2011 on expenditure, utilization of health services and state of health in Germany's statutory health insurance system. This data, which originate from a variety of administrative sources and cover about 90% of the population, are enriched with a wealth of socio-economic variables, data on pollutants, prices and individual preferences. State of health and demography explains 55% of the differences as measured by the standard deviation while all control variables account for a total of 72% of the differences at county level. With other measures of variation, we can account for an even greater proportion. A higher proportion of variation than usually supposed can thus be explained. Whilst this study cannot quantify inefficiencies, our results contradict the thesis that regional variations reflect inefficiency.