Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Health Insurance' Category

Canada’s single payer system doesn’t cover drugs?

Yes it is true.  Wang et al. (2015) report: Unlike physician and hospital services, which are universal in Canada, coverage for prescription drugs dispensed outside hospitals falls outside the Canada Health Act and provincial governments only provide public drug programs for some population groups,primarily seniors and social assistance recipients…Canada is still the only country that […]

Read the rest of this entry »

The cost of allowing kids to remain dependents up to 26 years

Many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act include provisions requiring health insurers to do certain things.  Variability of premiums are regulated, certain services are mandated (e.g., free annual check-up) and minimum benefits packages are set on the health insurance exchanges.  One seemingly innocuous provision of the ACA is that children are allowed to remain […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Physician shortage?

A physician shortage may be a bit much, but it appears that physicians overestimate their availability based on a study by Coffman et al. (2016). The percentage of callers posing as Medicaid patients who could schedule new patient appointments was 18 percentage points lower than the percentage of physicians who self-reported on the survey that […]

Read the rest of this entry »

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 […]

Read the rest of this entry »

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 […]

Read the rest of this entry »

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 […]

Read the rest of this entry »

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 […]

Read the rest of this entry »

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 […]

Read the rest of this entry »

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 […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Every Boston resident owes $3,000 for…

underfunded liabilities for city worker health care costs.  Brookings reports: Like most American cities, Boston has promised to pay most of the health care premiums for its employees after they retire — which can be as early as age 45 or 50. Boston also subsidizes the Medicare premiums of its retired employees after age 65. […]

Read the rest of this entry »