Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Health Insurance' Category

Does comparison shopping work in health care?

According to a recent study in JAMA, the answer may be no.  High-deductible health plans aim to not only reduce the use of unnecessary services, but to make consumers more price sensitive and search for high quality, low priced care.  The latter goal, however, depends crucially on whether patients have access to information on accurate […]

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Is balance billing a good thing?

Are health care prices set on an open market? Almost certainly not. In many cases, physician fees are set by insurers. Currently, for instance, Medicare sets fees for physicians administratively. At Medicare’s inception, however, Medicare did allow physicians to charge whatever fees they wanted; Medicare would pay a base rate and patients would be responsible […]

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Is Obamacare working?

The answer is yes and no. According to a study Holahan, Karpman, and Zuckerman (2016), the health insurance exchange plans are good at insuring individuals against financial losses, but not everyone is happy with the care they are receiving. Low- and moderate-income adults with Marketplace coverage are no more likely to report problems paying medical […]

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VBID in practice

In a typical insurance plan, patients have a fixed copayment, insurance and deductible regardless of whether the treatment they receive is considered high or low value.  However, an alternative insurance structure–known as value-based insurance design (VBID)–uses a different approach.  Under VBID, patient cost sharing is higher for low-value treatments and lower or eliminated for high-value […]

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Is P4P doomed to fail?

There have been many pay-for-performance (P4P) programs that have been implemented to attempt to improve quality and reduce cost. The vast majority of these programs have not been able to demonstrate large or even any improvement in quality or cost. Some researchers claim that these programs have not worked due to the size of the […]

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Health insurance in China

Although China has the world’s largest economy, the average individual is actually fairly poor.  Average incomes in the country are less than $15,000 per year, ranking #121 in the world.  However, a vast majority of Chinese have health insurance due to some recent reforms. A paper by Zhang et al. (2016) uses data from the 2011-2012 China […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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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