Keywords: soft budget constraint, health care provision, patients mobility
In some countries the reform of public health care provision has been accompanied by a parallel process of devolution that has also entailed the organisation of health care becoming a regional competence. However, the application of fiscal federalism in the context of the provision of health care is not so straightforward due to the nature of the services involved. In this paper we will concentrate on the soft budget constraint policy which involves local authorities persistently running into a deficit. In our paper we explain such behaviour as the result of a game among local authorities where the more efficient one wants to increase its production beyond local needs; to do so it induces the less efficient one to make patient receive services outside their region in exchange for a reduction in the local tax rate. The lack of coordination between local objectives and total welfare means that this policy is optimal at local level, but inefficient at Central Government level. The outcome of such game is a welfare loss.