Online healthcare service has gradually become a significant part of healthcare services, especially in emerging economy with shortage in medical resources and wide coverage in the Internet usage. This paper studies how health insurance policies affect the demand for online healthcare consultation by using longitudinal online healthcare and offline medical services datasets of a major city in China. The two policies we study are the integration of health insurance systems in urban and rural regions and the integration of health insurance systems between pairwise-cities. The empirical results show that both policies significantly affected the demand for online consultation. Our study is among the pioneering efforts examining the impact of health insurance policy on the demand for online healthcare services, in particular, the relocation of demand for medical services resulted from the integration of health insurance systems between rural and urban areas and across cities. It also provides an innovative angle to gauge the macro-level impact of medical insurance policy on the change and shift of medical service demand across channels and regions. This impact is difficult to detect in the past due to the disconnected hospital information systems and inconsistent medical insurance systems across hospitals and regions.
Yu, Yue; Yan, Meiqiu; and Wang, Qiu-Hong, "FROM OFFLINE TO ONLINE: HOW HEALTH INSURANCE POLICIES DRIVE THE DEMAND FOR ONLINE HEALTHCARE SERVICE?" (2016). PACIS 2016 Proceedings. 387.