Key Elements Affect Willingness to Pay for Sleep Disturbance Treatment

Certain variables have been shown to have both positive and negative influences on the willingness to pay for sleep disturbance treatment, such as wealth, insurance coverage, quality of life, and age.

Variables such as private health insurance coverage, household income, health-related quality of life (QOL), and age affected responses to a survey conducted in the Republic of Korea that attempted to measure respondents’ willingness to pay (WTP) and their preferences for integrative sleep therapy for sleep disturbances, according to the findings published in European Journal of Integrative Medicine.

No other study has inquired about preferences and WTP for integrative sleep disturbance treatment from medical consumers, the study author noted. Therefore, this analysis examined the WTP of South Korean medical consumers for the treatment of sleep disturbance through integrative health care services, with the goal of trying to understand how much participants in the country would be willing to pay for services to address their sleep disturbances and what those services might look like.

A random sample of subjects was gathered from 17 Korean regions according to proportion of population and region, sex, and age. These subjects were then divided equally into 3 groups of 1300 each for the initial 3 price bids asked about in the WTP questionnaire.

The double-bounded dichotomous choice question, “Are you willing to pay KRW ₩000 per consultation for using integrative health care services to treat your sleep disturbances?” was asked using 3 starting bids to avoid initial bid bias. The 3 bids were KRW ₩8000 (US $6.67 at an exchange rate of KRW ₩1200 per US $1); KRW ₩15,000 (US $12.50); and then KRW ₩22,000 (US $18.33). Respondents could only answer “yes” or “no” to the question. If the first bid was accepted by the respondent, it was doubled as the second bid, but if it was rejected, the second bid was half of the first bid, allowing 4 possible WTP outcome pairs of “Yes-Yes,” “Yes-No,” “No-Yes,” and “No-No.”

An online survey was then administered from November 10-26, 2021, which produced anonymous data. The contingent variation method was used to predict the WTP for health care services applying double-bounded dichotomous choice and open-ended question formats.

The open-ended WTP question on the survey showed that 30.74% of respondents did not choose any of the proposed bids in the double-bounded dichotomous choice questions but that they were willing to pay a higher price, making the open-ended question data valuable.

An analysis of 3900 valid and finished questionnaires resulted in 3 key results:

  • Of all survey subjects, 69.26% said they would pay the amount offered in the first or second bid
  • The average WTP for integrative health services for sleep disturbances came to KRW ₩15,535.46 (US$ 12.95) for each consultation
  • Variables that positively affected the WTP for such services consisted of private health insurance coverage, household income, and health-related QOL; the only variable that negatively affected WTP was age

Unsurprisingly, people who experienced sleep disturbances displayed more WTP than those without sleep disturbances. Clinic copay consists of 30% of total care benefit expenses, which means that the WTP and copay for the integrative health care services analyzed from this study matches an acceptable range, noted the investigator. However, the possibility exists that age may have negatively affected the study outcomes because younger people have more money to spend or they may be partial to integrative medicine. Further study on these points are recommended.

The data that explain that most survey respondents would pay the first or second proposed bid for integrative health care services for sleep disturbances is advantageous to numerous stakeholders because it illustrates consumers’ WTP and preference of health care services for sleep issues and provides insight into what consumers feel will be the most effective treatment.

Recognizing the WTP preferences of health care consumers also can help health care policymakers decide top priorities, and the information can be considered an expression of product value in options present to consumers.

Some limitations of this study include the restrictions that accompany online surveys, such as accurate representation of respondents and production of reliable information. Also, informational bias is possible because of self-reported answers, so the study was sure to include double-bonded dichotomous choice and open-ended questions.

For future studies, the researcher says it would be beneficial to target groups with “specific characteristics beyond sex, age, and region, [MS12] [JP13] to increase the strength of future results, and to go deeper into why the determinants of WTP are so influential.

Reference

Hyun MK. Willingness to pay for integrative healthcare services to treat sleep disturbances: evidence from a nationwide survey. Eur J Integr Med. 2023;58:1-9. doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2022.102223

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