Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for January, 2006

Is Britain’s goal to reduce hospital size beneficial to consumers?

A 31 January 2006 Times article (“Smaller is better, says minister in hospitals shake-up“) states that the National Health Service (NHS) hopes to increase the number of small in the UK to counter the trend of recent hospital closings. Is this a good policy? Let’s look at the Pros and Cons: Pros: Smaller, more numerous […]

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Trends in Health Care Spending

A recent Health Affairs article by Cynthia Smith, Cathy Cowan, Stephen Heffler and Aaron Catlin details the trends in health care spending over the last 25 years. I have compiled their results into a handy graph. In addition the the general overall increase, there are other significant findings. Between 1970 and 2004, out-of-pocket payments decreased […]

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Why are people enrolled in HSAs not contributing to their accounts?

A January 26th New York Times article (“Prognosis is Mixed for Health Savings“) gives a brief summary of the results of the Health Savings Account (HSA) legislation enacted in 2003. The HSA allows individuals to contribute to a health care savings account using pre-tax dollars; a mechanism for savings is similar to a 401(k). In […]

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When can you get ‘Something for Nothing’ in health care?

Today’s health care debate in the popular press can be boiled down to the following few points: Health Care is too expensive and we need to make it more ‘affordable,’ While reducing the price, we must maintain individual choice of which physicians they wish to see and which procedures they desire. Switching from a fee-for-service […]

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“Going into Labor: Earnings vs. Infant Survival in Rural Africa” – Elsa V. Artadi

Today I attended a seminar where Elsa Artadi presented her paper on: “Going into Labor: Earnings vs. Infant Survival in Rural Africa.” Artadi asked the question ‘why do families not optimize childbearing to coincide with months of minimal infant mortality?’ Artadi demonstrated that infant mortality rates vary significantly from month to month in Sub-Saharan Africa […]

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Money Trail May Mark Path of New Pandemics

A recent article in Nature (“The Scaling Laws of Human Travel“) claims that the flow of money may provide a good model of how diseases spread in modern society. Previous models of how pandemics generally thought that the dispersion would occur slowly over a contiguous geographic region. As air travel becomes more and more common […]

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Bush will propose “New Tax Breaks for Medical Expenses” in his 2006 State of the Union

The Washington Post reports that President George W. Bush will offer “New Tax Breaks for Medical Expensesâ€? in his State of the Union speech on January 31 at 9pm ET. Part of this proposal is to make personal expenditures on health expenditures tax deductible and to expand health savings accounts. When examining the health insurance […]

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Does drinking wine truly increase longevity?

A handful of studies have shown that people who drink one or two glasses of wine per day generally live longer than people who do not drink or who drink beer. Does wine really increase longevity? An article on the Medpage Today website suggests that Eating Well May Explain Wine Drinkers’ Better Health. Prior studies […]

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“Health Care Tax Policy” paper by Health Care Economist

In the United States today, many employees receive compensation in the form of health insurance in addition to pecuniary remuneration. Health insurance, however, is tax deductible when it is received from an individual’s employer while wages are not. A Health Affairs report shows that this tax expenditure from excluding health insurance from the federal income […]

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Is the Massachusetts Payroll Tax to Encourage Employer-Provided Health Insurance worth the cost?

Massachusetts has proposed a health care bill which four major components: Mandatory insurance for all Massachusetts residents Firms who do not offer insurance to their employees are subject to a payroll tax of: 5% for firms having between 11 and 100 employees and 7% for firms having over 100 employees. Firms employing 10 employees or […]

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