• Article

Search behavior and choice of physician in the market for prenatal care

The authors examine how 963 expectant mothers in Florida searched for and selected a prenatal care provider. Overall, the results suggest that women search for prenatal care in much the same way as search theory predicts. Nevertheless, the amount of search reported is surprisingly small. Less than a quarter of the women in the survey seriously considered more than one physician, and even among this group, less than 60% actually spoke to or visited a second physician. Because of the timing, importance, and relative frequency of pregnancy, it is probably easier to search for a prenatal care provider than it is to search for most other medical services. Consequently, if search is this uncommon for prenatal care providers, it is probably even less common for other procedures. As they search for and choose a prenatal care provider, pregnant women rely most heavily on information from friends and acquaintances. Women facing high coinsurance rates or whose choices are constrained by HMO or Medicaid coverage rely less on recommendations from friends and acquaintances. These women also appear less satisfied with their choice of prenatal care provider


Hoerger, T., & Howard, LZ. (1995). Search behavior and choice of physician in the market for prenatal care. Medical Care, 33(4), 332-349.