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The "free-factor" impact on value in health services

Hanken School of Economics
Publication Date
  • 150000 Commerce Management Tourism And Services
  • Communication
  • Political Science


Purpose - This paper seeks to understand the impact of financial cost on customer value in health prevention services by comparing free government services with private fee-charging providers. This is important as there is a common belief that a free health service is of lower quality and thus lower value than a paid service. However there is no evidence to verify this notion. Design / Methodology / Approach - A large-scale online survey was administered nationwide to Australian women. The respondents were asked about the functional and emotional value derived from their service experiences. Findings - Structural equation modelling (SEM) revealed non significant relationships between fee/free services and functional and emotional value (FV/EV). The non-significant relationship with FV is contrary to the theory of price quality relationship in services. This could be attributed to consumer perceptions that the technical quality of health professionals is comparable across free and paid services. The non-significant relationship with EV could be explained by the indicators used to reflect EV. These indicators were reflective of breast screening behaviour, not breast screening services. Subsequently, it may be posited that the act of having a breast screen is sufficient for consumers to derive emotional value, regardless of the financial cost. Originality / Value - This research fills an important gap in the literature by investigating the impact of financial cost on a service that consumers use proactively(prevention), rather than reactively (treatment). Insights are provided into the impact of cost on customer value in preventive health services, which are valuable to social marketing academics, health practitioners, and governments

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