Gender medicine receives more and more academic and public interest. Recent medical and pharmaceutical research shows that men and women differ in diagnosis type and frequency, as well as symptoms and treatment for certain diseases. Simultaneously, more female physicians than ever enter the profession, changing the composition of the medical workforce and potentially increasing the recognition of gender and sex differences in the treatment of patients. We exploit a unique quasi-random procedure for filling vacant outpatient physician positions in Upper Austria to causally analyze the effect of the gender of a general practitioner (GP) on individual health care utilization. In this setting, patients have no influence on the replacement process. In addition, we show that female succeeding physicians do not select themselves to certain positions,
conditional on further observed physician characteristics. In line with previous studies, we find a significant positive effect on health care costs among patients with a female succeeding GP in comparison to patients with a male succeeding GP. However, the point estimates are small. When we look at female and male patients separately, there is, except for GP visits, no statistically significant difference between the effect for male and female patients. We conclude, that previous research potentially has overestimated the primary care providers gender effect on patients.