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Health Policy. 2010 Mar;94(3):266-72. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2009.11.001. Epub 2009 Nov 28.

Perception of the economic value of primary care services: a Willingness to Pay study.

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  • 1San Martín de Valdeiglesias Health Center, 1st La Bola St., 28680 San Martin de Valdeiglesias, Madrid Health Service, Madrid, Spain. jmartinefe@hotmail.com



Identify the economic value the user attributes to the visit to the family physician, in a setting of a National Health System, by the Willingness to Pay (WTP) expressed.


Economic evaluation study, by the contingent valuation method. Questions were asked about WTP using a payment card format. Interviews were conducted with 451 subjects, in areas with different socioeconomic characteristics. An ordered probit was used to evaluate model's validity.


Median WTP expressed was euro18 (interquartile range euro8-28), not including "zero-answers" of thirty-four subjects (7.5%). This value represents 2% of average adjusted family incomes. Patients with higher incomes or with chronic illnesses presented a probability of 5-14 percentage points of expressing a high WTP. For every point of increase of patient satisfaction, the probability of presenting a WTP in the lowest range decreases 7.0 percentage points. Subjects with a low education level and those older than 65 expressed a lower WTP. Accessibility, risk perception, nationality and having private insurance were not related to the WTP expressed.


Users of primary care have a clear perception of the economic value of care received from the family physician, even in a framework of providing services financed by taxes and without cost at the moment of use. This value increases in subjects with higher incomes, with greater need for care, or more satisfied.

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