New technologies may displace existing, higher-value care under a fixed budget. Countries aim to curtail adoption of low-value technologies, for example, by installing cost-effectiveness thresholds. Our objective is to estimate the opportunity cost of hospital care to identify a threshold value for the Netherlands. To this aim, we combine claims data, mortality data and quality of life questionnaires from 2012 to 2014 for 11,000 patient groups to obtain quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) outcomes and spending. Using a fixed effects translog model, we estimate that a 1% increase in hospital spending on average increases QALY outcomes by 0.2%. This implies a threshold of €73,600 per QALY, with 95% confidence intervals ranging from €53,000 to €94,000 per QALY. The results stipulate that new technologies with incremental cost effectiveness ratios exceeding the Dutch upper reference value of €80,000 may indeed displace more valuable care.
Keywords: QALY; cost-effectiveness; health care spending; threshold; translog function.
© 2019 The Authors. Health Economics published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.