Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for January, 2016

Medicare in the data analysis business?

From a recent N.Y. Times article on Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer “moonshoot”: The researchers pointed out that although genome sequencing seems to be rapidly transforming cancer research, a tiny fraction of cancer patients are having their tumors sequenced because most insurers, including Medicare, will not pay for the procedure. For a start, the group told […]

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Friday Links

How medicine will use 3D printers. 5 things to know about biosimilars. Pharma halting payments to MDs? Hospital of the future? Nanodegree guarantees a job?

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HWR at InsureBlog

One of my favorite health insurance blogger, Hank Stern, has a freshly posted Health Wonk Review: Happy New Year! Edition at InsureBlog. Check it out.

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ASSA 2016: Regional variation in hospital spending among U.S. privately insured patients

How do health care costs vary across the country. Although the team at the Dartmouth Atlas has done this exercise with patients in Medicare, there has been less study of region variation in health care spending among the privately insured with the notable exception of a 2013 Institute of Medicine report. In a study by […]

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State of the Union 2016: A Health Care Review

As I have done every year, below are excerpts from the State of the Union address that focus on health care (full transcript here). President Obama did not offer any specific policies except potentially additional funding for cancer research. The President did mention the success of the ACA in maintaining insurance for people transitioning to jobs […]

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2016 ASSA: How does competitions among insurers affect premiums

Typically, most economists believe that increased competition decreases prices.  However, is that the case for competition among health insurers? On the one hand, competition among health insurers could decrease prices if consumers choose plans based on premiums.  Competition may increase insurer’s incentive to negotiate with providers and may force insurers to make lower margins or lower […]

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2016 ASSA: Effect of guaranteed issue and community rating on health insurance premiums

How should insurance be regulated? Should insurance plans be able to price premiums based on health conditions? The drawbacks of this approach is that it is not equitable as sicker patients will pay higher premiums. Should all people pay the same cost? Although more equitable, using a single price would incentivize healthy people to avoid […]

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2016 ASSA: How does expanding Medicaid eligibility affect take-up and health care spending?

Typically, answering this question is difficult as the Medicaid program varies across states and even within states. What Amanda Kowalski and co-authors do in a paper she presented at the 2016 ASSA is collect data on the variation in Medicaid eligibility across states, across demographic groups, and across time from the inception of Medicaid in […]

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ASSA 2016: How do high-deductible health plans affect spending levels?

Are high deductible health plans (HDHP) the holy grail for reducing cost? If so, how do consumers go about reducing cost, by reducing all utilization or shopping around for better prices? This is the research question that Ben Handel presented at 2016 ASSA meetings. He uses data from a large firm with 35,000-60,000 employees and […]

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2016 ASSA: How does consumer inattention affect pricing?

Why do Medicare patients choose to stay in their current Part D prescription drug plan or switch to another? Are they rational actors maximizing their their financial benefit or do other factors play a role. A paper by Kate Ho and co-authors (NBER WP version) presented at the 2016 ASSA meetings find the switch rates […]

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