Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for October, 2006

The doctor as a double agent

In modern medicine, doctors are agents for two distinct groups. The physician is an agent for the patient, but also an agent for insurance companies-especially in the managed care settings.  In balancing both relationships, the doctor must juggle the conflicting principal-agent problems of information asymmetry and third party payment.  Ake Blomqvist develops an interesting theoretical model to […]

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Physician Selection

Health economists frequently examine the effect of physician payment method on the provision of medical services.  It is often found that patients whose doctors are compensated via capitation or salaried schemes receive fewer services than patients whose doctors are compensated through a fee for service mechanism.  This finding is robust to a variety of medical settings […]

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Environmental Economist blog

If you are sick and tired of reading health care blogs, you may want to look at a blog which looks at the health of the environment.  Natural Capital is an environment economics blog by Robert Metcalfe, a PhD student at Imperial College London’s Tanaka Business School.  A visitor will even find an entertaining cartoon […]

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Information on Referrals

Years ago, when someone needed care from a doctor they visited the physician directly whether they were a general practitioner or a specialist.  Nowadays, it is rarer for patients to visit a specialist without a referral.  The typical referral comes from a primary care physician, but it is also common for a specialist to refer […]

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Basic thoughts on health insurance from economists

David Cutler and Richard Zeckhauser review “The anatomy of health insurance” in chapter 11 of the Handbook of Health Economics.  The chapter provides an overview of the economics field’s insight regarding health insurance.  The authors summarize the literature’s findings into 5 main lessons listed below: Risk spreading versus incentives: Health insurance involves a fundamental tradeoff […]

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2006 Nobel Prize in Economics

This morning it was announced that Edmund Phelps was the 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.  Mr. Phelps is a macro-economist best known for his work explaining the trade-off between unemployment and inflation in the economy.  A biography of Mr. Phelps can be found on the Columbia University website. 

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Population Growth: U.S. versus Russia

In Sunday’s L.A. Times I found two articles regarding population growth.  The first (“America at 300 million“) notes that although the U.S. is nearing 300 million people, there is plenty of space available for these newcomers.  Although the birth rate is still not at replacement, the recent increase in immigration has allowed the U.S. to […]

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Top Business Schools

Today the Princeton Review named my alma matter (University of Pennsylvania) as the university with the best business school (the Wharton School).  While I don’t believe the rankings accurately reflect school quality, its always nice to be number one. ‘Hurrah, Hurrah, Pennsylvania…Hurrah for the red and the blue!’

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Estimating the quality weights of health care outcomes

Which health state is better?  Of course everyone knows that it is better to be healthy then sick, but what if you were faced with the following choice: Scenario A: being too sick to prepare your own meals or dress yourself, but are able to move around the house without fear, Scenario B: being able […]

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Nobel Prize in Medicine

What do you need to do to win a Nobel Prize these days?  Simple, just figure out a way to shut down individual genes in the body.  This is what Andrew Fire and Craig Mello–the 2006 Nobel Prize winners in Medicine–achieved in order to merit the award.  Their technique holds the possibility of new therapies for […]

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