Tackling excessive waiting times for elective surgery: a comparative analysis of policies in 12 OECD countries

Health Policy. 2005 May;72(2):201-15. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2004.07.003.


This paper compares policies to tackle excessive waiting times for elective surgery in 12 OECD countries. It is found that waiting times may be reduced by acting on the supply of or on the demand for surgery (or both). On the supply side, evidence suggests that both capacity and financial incentives towards productivity can play an important role. On the demand side, inducing a raising of clinical thresholds may reduce waiting times but may also provoke tension between clinicians and policy makers. Preliminary evidence also suggests that an increase in private health insurance coverage may reduce waiting times.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Developing Countries
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / trends*
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Waiting Lists*