Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

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Medicare spending surges again

The August update to the Congressional Budget Office’s 10-year economic outlook is fairly rosy.  The deficit will ‘only’ be $426 billion, which is $59 billion less than the deficit last year and would represent 2.4% of GDP, the smallest deficit as a share of GDP since 2007.  Nevertheless, CBO still products overall US debt to rise […]

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How useful are health rankings?

According to an HSR editorial by Stephan Arndt, the answer is not very.  Generally, county level health rankings are too variable to be of much use.  Further, while some metropolitan regions may have large sample sizes, the sample sizes in less densely populated rural counties will be far lower leading to less precise estimates of any […]

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Prison Readmission Penalties

Medicare has adopted a system where hospitals that have large number of unplanned readmissions are penalized through lower compensation.  Previously, hospitals made more money when patients were re-admitted; now, these incentives are reduced although not completely eliminated.  Stuart Butler at The Health Care Blog has an interesting idea: apply a similar approach to prisons.     […]

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The Evolution of Pay for Performance

Interesting comments from Mitzi Wasik, PharmD, BCPS, director of Pharmacy Medicare Programs at Aetna. HT: AJMC.

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Quotation of the day: Weight

Vergon 6 was once filled with the super-dense substance known as dark matter, each pound of which weighs over ten thousand pounds. The Professor, Futurama, S1E4. On that light-hearted note, enjoy your weekend!

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Friday Links

The Healthcare Economist is on vacation for the next week, but I leave you with these posts to tide you over until my return. First 3D-printed drug. A cancer report card. Will software eat healthcare? Machine learning and brain injury Profile of super-utilizers.

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Does your employer cover transgender benefits?

It may be more likely than you think. The Health Business Blog (via Business Insurance) notes that: …the Office of Personnel Management recently required Federal Employee Benefit Plan providers to cover transition-related care…About half of large employers offer transgender-related surgical coverage compared with 5 percent in 2007, according to a National Business Group on Health survey. […]

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Friday Links

Paying for primary care. Is marijuana ‘medical’? Why rent control is bad. Minimum wage. Health insurance and cable.

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Choice in the Health Insurance Exchanges

I have posted frequently on the ACA and narrow networks (here and here). How narrow are the networks plans available in the health insurance exchanges? How does provider choice differ between standard commercial insurance plans and those in the exchanges? A study by Avalere finds: …exchange plan networks include 42 percent fewer oncology and cardiology […]

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What is they key driver of cancer care spending?

High-cost cancer drugs often get bad press. Cancer treatment certainly is expensive. However, drug costs are not the primary driver of high cost of cancer treatment; hospitalizations are. Using data from SEER-Medicare, Brooks et al. (2014) examine regional variation in the cost of cancer care and find: Acute hospital care was the largest component of […]

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