Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

The cost of cancer care: Examining four common cancers

An interesting study by Chen et al. (2017) examines the cost of cancer care among Medicare patients.  Using SEER-Medicare data of people diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2011, they found: Over the year of diagnosis, mean per-patient annual Medicare spending varied substantially by cancer type: $35,849 for breast cancer, $26,295 for prostate cancer, $55,597 […]

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Does more spending improve outcomes?

A number of studies have claimed that increased health expenditures may result in no better, or even worse outcomes.  For instance, a paper by Fisher et al. (2003) looking at patients with acute myocardial infarction, colorectal cancer, or hip fracture finds that “Quality of care in higher-spending regions was no better on most measures and […]

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Health Care Spending is Complicated

Healthcare Triage reviews a recent publication in JAMA that describes health care spending in detail.  A nice summary.

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Are expensive cancer drugs worth the money?

A paper by Sebastian Salas-Vega and Elias Mossialos attempts to answer this question looking at nine countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States) using data between 2004 and 2014.  They find that: All nine countries—most notably France and Japan—witnessed an improvement in neoplasm-related years of potential life lost, […]

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Does more spending improve patient outcomes?

The answer to this question is not so clear cut.  Comparing outcome for patients living in Beverly Hills and those in South Los Angeles may be different not only due to health care spending but also due to the patient socioeconomic factors that affect health outcomes.  To get around this econometric challenge, an interesting paper […]

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Who pays for the elderly’s medical care in the U.S.?

In the U.S., the answer is largely the government.  An NBER paper by Mariacristina De Nardi, Eric French, John Bailey Jones, and Jeremy McCauley provide some helpful statistics using data from 1996 to 2010 waves of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS). The government pays for two-thirds of health care spending by the elderly, with Medicare […]

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What share of society’s “raise” should go to healthcare?

Politico.com has an interesting series of articles titled Obamacare 2.0, which examines different perspectives on how to improve the Affordable Care Act.   One common theme in about half the articles is that the ACA does not do enough to cut healthcare spending. The rise in healthcare spending over the past few decades has been significant.  In […]

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Health care cost rising by almost 10%

Many times I have been asked whether the Affordable Care Act is a good thing.  The 1 sentence answer is: “Yes, because it expands health insurance coverage to more Americans, but no because it adds many layers of regulation and does little to slow cost growth.”  This last point is rearing its ugly head.  Sally Pipes […]

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Does Increased Hospital Spending Reduce Mortality?

According to Romley, Jena and Goldman (2011), the answer is yes. For each of 6 diagnoses at admission—acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, acute stroke, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, hip fracture, and pneumonia—patient admission to higher-spending hospitals was associated with lower risk-adjusted inpatient mortality. During 1999 to 2003, for example, patients admitted with acute myocardial infarction to […]

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Why is end-of-life spending so high?

The answer is because using more intensive services does reduce mortality. This is the finding of a recent JAMA paper. After controlling for patient case mix, the authors examine variation in hospital spending in the last year of a patient’s life. The authors note that “Higher-spending hospitals differed in many ways, such as greater use […]

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