Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Health insurance expansion and physician supply

When new bills pass in Congress or state legislatures that expand health insurance coverage, most researcher look at the demand side effect.  How does the insurance expansion affect the number uninsured?  How does it affect access to care?  How does it affect out of pocket cost? What is less frequently studied is the supply side […]

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Should employers provide health insurance to their workers?

On this Labor Day, I want to address a fundamental question in the U.S. health care system: should employers provide health insurance to their workers?  I won’t take a stand on the issue but I will just list some pros and cons.  Wherever you stand on the issue, I recommend you carefully consider the arguments […]

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Smarter deductibles?

Are high deductible health plans a good thing?  Republicans typically argue yes as they say that increased cost sharing reduces moral hazard.  That is, when people have to pay for medical care out of pocket, they don’t ask for unnecessary care or use care more frugally.  Democrats typically argue that increased cost sharing reduces demand […]

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The problem with step therapy

Step therapy is good in theory, but often not in practice.  In step therapy, patients are required to try one drug first–typically a low cost and/or high-value treatment–before moving on to more expensive alternatives.  In theory, this is a great idea.  The first drug patients should try should be the highest value one. In practice, however, […]

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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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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 […]

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Antidepressant coverage in the Health Insurance Exchange plans

The most common drug class taken among patients aged 18-44 is an antidepressant. Furhter, these relatively young and healthy patients are likely to be the ones who enroll in healht plans within the health insurance exchanges.  The question is, how easily can patients access information about antidepressant coverage? According to a recent RWJ report, the […]

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Covered California and Adverse Selection

The Affordable Care Act requires all individuals to be offered the same premium regardless of health status. Although there are some ratings bands based on age and smoking status, most people who purchase insurance on health insurance exchanges receive the same premium for any given insurance product from any given insurance company. The insurance products […]

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Do quality rankings matter?

There have many policy initiatives to measure and improve quality of care.  For instances, NCQA’s HEDIS measure are the most widely used quality measures among commercial insurers.  Since employers generally choose insurance plans for employees (or at least select the menu of insurance options for employees), one would expect that employers would look for high […]

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Insurance and Receipt of Recommended Care

Insurance doesn’t have much effect on whether patients receive recommended care: Source: Asch SM, Kerr EA, Keesey J, Adams JL, Setodji CM, Malik S, et al. Who Is at Greatest Risk for Receiving Poor-Quality Health Care? New England Journal of Medicine. 2006;354(11):1147-56. PubMed PMID: 16540615. HT: Ashish Jha of The Health Care Blog.

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