Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Impact of Medicare Advantage on Hospital Admissions

Do patients who enroll in Medicare Advantage go to the hospital less frequently? The answer is yes. However, this fact may not be causal. Patients who enroll in Medicare Advantage are generally younger and healthier than patients who enroll in Medicare’s fee-for-service (FFS) program. A paper by Duggan, Gruber and Vabson (2016) uses a novel […]

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FFS vs. Capitation Reimbursement: Responses by Physicians and Medical Students

How do people respond to financial incentives?  In the medical world, physicians often are paid fee-for-service (FFS) or capitation.  Physicians receiving FFS reimbursement receive additional compensation for each additional service they do.  For instance, physicians under FFS receive twice as much compensation for 2 office visits as they would for 1 office visit.  On the other hand, […]

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Does getting cancer incentivize individuals to switch from Medicare managed care to FFS?

Medicare beneficiaries have a choice: pick the standard Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) benefit or rely on managed care plans to supply their healthcare through the Medicare Advantage (MA) program.  Many Medicare beneficiaries prefer MA because it offers them lower out-of-pocket costs and provide benefits not available in the traditional FFS Medicare program. Other beneficiaries prefer the […]

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Do doctors tailor the care they provide based on the patient’s health plan?

Many studies (including my own) have shown that physicians paid via capitation  perform fewer services than those paid via fee-for-service (FFS).  In the current health care world, however, most physicians treat patients from a variety of different insurance systems (notable exceptions are doctors working at Kaiser and the VA). Two important research questions come to […]

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Does Physician income increase from treating more complex patients?

In Denmark at least, the answer is no. “From the theoretical model we find that higher levels of patient complexity lead GPs [General Practitioners] to choose a lower list size, whereas the effect on income is ambiguous. The effect on total utility (income and leisure) is, however, shown to be negative. Using empirical datafrom 1039 […]

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“The country’s dismal rates of vaginal birth after Caesarean”

From the N.Y. Times: The national Caesarean rate, 31.8 percent, has been rising steadily for the last 11 years and is fed by repeat patients. Critics say that doctors are performing too many Caesareans, needlessly exposing women and infants to surgical risks and running up several billion dollars a year in excess bills, precisely the […]

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Cochrane Review: The effect of capitation, fee-for-service (FFS) and mixed payment systems on primary care physician behavior

Primary care physicians can be compensated in a number of ways. The most popular are capitation, fee-for-service, salary, or some mixture of the three. But how does the physician compensation method affect care levels? This is the question Gosden et al. (2000) try to answer in their Cochrane review. The authors search the literature for […]

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Health Insurance, Physician Compensation and the Quantity of Medical Care

Many studies have attempted to determine how the manner in which physicians are compensated by health insurance companies affects the quantity of medical care provided. Today I will summarize some seminal studies in this field. Epstein, Begg and McNeil (NEJM 1986) In this study, the authors examine whether or not there is a difference in […]

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