Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Obamacare will Increase Use of Elective Surgeries

Expanding health insurance causes moral hazard.  Patients who bear a lower share of cost will inevitably use more health care serices.  On the one hand, this increases the cost of the health care system; on the other hand, the patients who receive the additional care likely have better health outcomes. However, which services will patients who are newly […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Massachusetts getting a singler payer system?

Maybe, if Donald Berwick becomes governor.  Mr. Berwick is the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). He ran CMS between 2010 and 2011, but left when Senate Republicans blocked his confirmation to lead the agency permanently.  Now, WonkBlog reports that Mr. Berwick is running for governor of Massachusetts.  His platform claims that the state–whose earlier […]

Read the rest of this entry »

How much money is your employer contributing to your health insurance?

The answer is $0. “But Healthcare Economist,” you may say, “I know that my employer contributes $X to my health insurance so this must be false.  Further, businesses always complain about the high cost of health insurance.” Although businesses do contribute to your health insurance in a nominal way, these contributions are almost entirely offset […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Rationing comes to Massachusetts

Massachusetts legislature passed a first-in-the-nation bill limits the growth of health care costs in the state. “The bill would not allow spending on health care to grow any faster than the state’s economy through 2017. For five years after that, any rise in health care costs would need to be half a percentage point lower […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Access to health insurance ≠ Access to health care.

Is the Massachusetts health reform a success?  Yes and no. In terms of increasing access to health care, it has been an unqualified success.  According to the Economist, only1.9% of Massachusetts residents were uninsured in 2010. Massachusetts’ health reform has not been able to offer universal access to health care or to constrain costs. ” One […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Alternative Quality Contract

“In January 2009 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts launched a new provider payment system called the Alternative Quality Contract that exemplifies the type of experimentation with novel payment models that the Affordable Care Act encourages. The Alternative Quality Contract is a modified global payment model in which annual payments to medical groups are linked to a per member per month budget.” Today I […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Effect of Massachusetts Health Reform on Hospital and Preventive Care

Kolstad and Kowalski (2010) examine how the Massachusetts individual mandate affected uninsurance rates, hospital and outpatient utilization, and preventive care: “Among the population discharged from the hospital in Massachusetts, the reform decreased uninsurance by 28% relative to its initial level. Increased coverage affected utilization patterns by decreasing length of stay and the number of inpatient […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Health Care Reform in Massachusetts

With healthcare reform having passed, how will the health insurance market look a few years from now?  Although Mitt Romney may (or may not) deny it, Massachusetts has been a model for President Obama’s health reform bill.  In 2006, Massachusetts passed its own health reform and when the share of uninsured residents was at 14%.  […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Massachusetts Makes Cuts to Universal Health Plan

The Boston Globe reports that “Overseers of Massachusetts’ trailblazing healthcare program made their first cuts yesterday, trimming $115 million, or 12 percent, from Commonwealth Care, which subsidizes premiums for needy residents and is the centerpiece of the 2006 law.”  The reduction in the Commonwealth Care was caused by the bad economy.  Not only does a […]

Read the rest of this entry »

50 days to see a doctor in Boston…Is Massachusetts’ universal coverage laws the cause?

From the USA Today, here are the wait times to see a doctor in the following cities: Boston: 49.6 Philadelphia: 27 Los Angeles: 24.2 Houston: 23.4 Washington, D.C.: 22.6 San Diego 20.2 Minneapolis: 19.8 Dallas: 19.2 New York: 19.2 Denver: 15.4 days Miami: 15.4 days The first thing that jumps out from these numbers is that […]

Read the rest of this entry »