Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for December, 2009

Friday Links

Why selling across state lines won’t work. German healthcare system’s 2009 deficit: €7.5 billion. If private health insurance worked, we wouldn’t need health reform. Swine Flu Death Toll at 10,000. Government-financed, privately-administered healthcare?  Some Americans already have it.

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Does Preventive Care Save Money?

“…the broad generalizations by many presidential candidates can be misleading. These statements convey the message that substantial resources can be saved through prevention. Although some prevention measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not.” Cohen JT, Neumann PJ, and Weinstein MC (2008) “Does Preventive Care Save Money? Health […]

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Can the government create jobs?

On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled a plan to use repaid TARP monies to fund a job creation program.  The question is, can the government actually create jobs? Initially, one would say yes.  If the government hires more workers, this is job creation.  If the government hires more contractors, this is job creation.  If the government […]

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Medi-Cal Facts

California’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, is the largest in the nation.  The California Health Care Foundation offers some interesting facts about the program in this report. For instance: In just two years, Medi-Cal’s share of the state’s General Fund spending increased from 17% to 19%. If not for provisions in the federal stimulus bill that […]

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Average vs. Marginal Benefit of Medical Treatment

“The weak relationship between aggregate spending and health outcomes is in stark contrast to evidence showing pronounced medical benefits for use of specific medical devices, procedures, or pharmaceuticals. For example, advances in the treatment of heart attacks reduced the one-year mortality rate for these patients by 5 percentage points between 1984 and 1991 (Cutler et […]

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Taiwan’s National Health Insurance System

In a recent edition of Health Affairs, health economist Tsung-Mei Cheng interviews Taiwan’s Health Minister Ching-Chuan Yeh, M.D. They discuss Taiwan’s adoption of a national health insurance (NHI) system in 1995.  Below are some highlights from the interview. Health spending as a share of GDP was 4.79% in 1993 (prior to NHI) and 6.1% in […]

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Urinalysis in Nepal

In The Healing of America, T.R. Reid discusses some ‘interesting’ urinalysis techniques practiced by Dr. Tenzin in Nepal.   “When they do urinalysis up at Khunde [a Western-style clinic in Nepal], all the do is stick a slip of paper into a sample,” he said.  “But that can’t be enough.  I just don’t think it […]

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Are HSAs the solution to health care reform?

Many economists feel that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are the direction in which health reform needs to head. HSAs combine high-deductible health plans with tax-deferred savings account. The theory behind HSAs is for the patient to pay for ‘basic’ health care to reduce the problem of moral hazard while letting insurance pay for catestrophic illnesses. […]

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To Curb Repeat Hospital Stays, Pay Doctors

Much of my own research has focused on how physician financial incentives affect the quantity and quality of medical care. It should come as no surprise that I found a recent New York Times article on the topic stimulating.  Dr. Sandjeep Jauhar examines how hospital and physician financial incentives affect the length of a patient’s […]

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Why Physician Report Cards don’t work

A paper by Hofer et al. (JAMA 1999) looked at the reliability of physician report cards having to do with diabetes treatment.  The authors looked at variability across physicians in the number of physician visits and hospitalizations among diabetic patients.  They found: Other factors affect hospitalization more than physician care. “For profiles based on hospitalization […]

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