Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Why don’t we rely exclusively on CEA estimates to make drug coverage determinations?

Cost effectiveness analyses (CEA) typically analyses the value of a new treatment relative to its cost.  If the value of the additional health benefits outweigh the additional cost, then they should be covered; if the additional cost outweighs the additional benefit, then it should not be covered, right? There are a few issues with this […]

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How many people don’t have any health insurance options

Much of the news has claimed that the Affordable Care Act is a failure because individuals in many counties have few or even no health insurance options.  However, how many counties truly will have zero Obamacare exchange insurance options in 2018 ? The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that there are only 17 counties covering 9,595 […]

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Single Payer vs. 300 million payer

Drug prices are in the spotlight of late.  From Pharma bro to EpiPen price hikes to Trump’s most recent press conference high drug prices are getting a lot of attention.  One solution is to have a single payer system whereby the government negotiates drug prices directly with pharmaceutical firms.  Michael Cannon proposes an alternative, the 300 […]

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Health reform and health insurance churn

The Affordable Care Act provides a lifeline for individuals previously “too rich” for Medicaid, but who did not have access to employer-provided insurance.  First, making Medicaid eligibility rules more generous lead to more people just above the poverty line getting access to health insurance.  Second, the “Obamacare” health insurance exchanges offered community-rated, income-subsidized health insurance coverage for people […]

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Will payers pay for new healthcare technologies

Wearables, digital medicine and ‘beyond-the-pill’ are the latest healthcare craze.  New technologies–particular those combined with patients mobile phones–offer the promise of improving patient health.  One question is will insurance companies, the government and other payers actually reimburse for these technologies.  According to a recent FiercePharma article, the answer is yes…if there is evidence. Payers say they’re willing […]

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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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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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Wages and Benefits

For the past few years, some economists have claims that increases in income inequality are due to increased cost of employee benefits such as health insurance.  For instance, let’s say that health insurance cost $10,000 per worker.  Workers with a wage of $20,000 have total compensation of $30,000 including benefits, and workers with wages of […]

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