Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Regulating 23andMe

A number of companies, such as 23andMe, allow individuals to sequence their own genes in order to attempt to determine if they have an elevated risk for certian diseases. This sector has largely been unregulated…until now. The Economist reports, On November 22nd the FDA…sent a stern letter to 23andMe, a genetic-testing firm. Despite “more than […]

Read the rest of this entry »

The Trade-offs of Healthcare Regulation

When a problem appears, politicians often call for more regulation. Wall Street collapses? Frank-Dodd. Health insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions? PPACA. Need to protect patient privacy? HIPAA. But are there downsides to increased regulation? A paper by Cotet and Benjamin (2013) examines just this question. In particular, they examine the welfare implications of regulations that […]

Read the rest of this entry »

The end of the FDA?

When Alfred Caronia worked for a drug company, he promoted some drug’s off-label use. The Department of Justice did not take kindly to Caronia’s behavior and sued him for violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). He was convicted, but appealed the conviction. Caronia argued that this commercial speech is protected by the first […]

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Survive a Plague

Last weekend, I watched the movie How to Survive a Plague.  The movie discusses the AIDS activist group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power).  Although I am not a  movie critic (you can see reviews by professional critics here), I do want to discuss one key issue that the move discusses: should the FDA liberalize its […]

Read the rest of this entry »

On California’s Rising Gas Prices

The episode may also serve as a reminder that the more layers of regulation we put on commerce, the less resilient is the system when something goes wrong. – Jim Hamilton For Californians (like myself) who want to know why gas prices spiked more than 50 cents in about a week, you can read a […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Plastic Surgery in China

China standard is living as funds from export industries eventually trickle down into the earnings of (some) ordinary Chinese. Where are the Chinese spending their newfound wealth?  In part, the answer is self-beautification procedures.  According to the Economist: “China performs more cosmetic surgery than any country except America and Brazil. Almost 1.3m licensed procedures were […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Why are there so few vaccine suppliers?

In many cases, only a handful of suppliers produce vaccines for a given disease.  In fact, for several vaccine types the U.S. has fewer suppliers than countries with a smaller market and a higher level of government purchase. One reason for this finding could be strict government regulation.  All vaccines must be approved by the […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Holistic Regulation

“We must have a strategy that regulates the financial system as a whole, in a holistic way, not just its individual components.” Ben S. Bernanke, “Financial Reform to Address Systemic Risk” at the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C., March 10, 2009   In a 2010 short paper, Brunnermeier, Hansen, Kashyap, Krishnamurthy and Lo (2010) […]

Read the rest of this entry »

The Demand for Policy Interventions

“Authors of economics books, essays, articles, and political platforms demand interventionist measures before they are taken, but once they have been imposed no one likes them. Then everyone—usually even the authorities responsible for them—call them insufficient and unsatisfactory. Generally the demand then arises for the replacement of unsatisfactory interventions by other, more suitable measures. And […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Does the U.S. Really Have a Free Market for Health Insurance?

Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. has a free market for health insurance and Europe relies on a state-run, socialist health care system.  The U.S. ‘free market’ for health insurance, however, is in fact strictly regulated.  States exert significant authority over what benefits plans can offer and what premiums they charge.  Consider the following evidence […]

Read the rest of this entry »