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14:19 EST 22nd January 2020 | BioPortfolio

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Showing News Articles 1–25 of 133 from Healthcare Economist

Wednesday 22nd January 2020

Coronavirus lands in the US

Today, the first case of coronavirus was identified in the U.S. The man was infected when he traveled to visit relatives in the Wuhan, China. Here are some helpful FAQs. Where has the coronavirus spread? The CDC website reports: Chinese authorities first identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in close to 300 confirmed human…

Monday 20th January 2020

Are survival benefits keeping up with rising cancer drug costs?

Despite what conventional wisdom says, a paper by Chen et al. (2019) indicates that the answer may be ‘yes’. The adjusted price per median LYG [life year gained] of a drug increased by $6129 (P = .14) each year from 1995 to 2012,…whereas the adjusted price per mean LYG increased at a markedly slower rate…

Synthetic Control Method

One popular technique for causal inference is difference-in-difference (DiD) estimation. Under DiD, there is one cohort of observations with both a pre and post intervention time period and another group that was not exposed to the intervention. The time trend of the group without an intervention in essence serves as a control group for the…

Friday 17th January 2020

Is 25% of health care spending really waste?

That is a claim by a recent JAMA article by Shrank et al. (2020). The Incidental Economist has a nice video explaining their findings. Of the $760 billion in total waste, the largest component is administration and billing, costing $266 billion. There is an easy way to eliminate most of this waste: eliminate insurance. If…

Monday 13th January 2020

Healthcare Economist interviewed in RADAR on Specialty Pharmacy

This month, RADAR on Specialty Pharmacy, wrote an article on drug importation titled “HHS Importation Efforts Move Ahead, but Questions Remain”. As part of the article, I was interviewed. Below is an excerpt. High drug prices have been in the news for a few years, catching “the ire of public opinion and politicians,” observes Jason…

Can we reduce superutilizers’ health care costs​?

In the U.S., 5% of the population account for 50% of expenditures. Many of these so-called “superutilizers” have multiple comorbidities; some of these patients face economic challenges, while others may contend with mental illness. One approach to attempt to improve quality and reduce cost is to provide these high-cost patients with supplemental services. One question…

Wednesday 8th January 2020

Lower cost-sharing improves drug adherence

Not a surprising finding but an important one nonetheless. Using data from the 2013–17 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) a paper by Gaffney et al. (2020) finds: Although people with VHA [Veterans Health Administration] coverage were older and in worse health and had lower incomes than those with other coverage, VHA patients had lower rates…

Mid-week Links

Open-source models are essential. The Economist’s country of the year David Brooks (from 2015): “Résumé virtues” vs “Eulogy virtues.” Homelessness and water quality in California Wait times for glaucoma treatment at NHS

Monday 6th January 2020

What would Medicare for All look like?

A nice overview is provided by Johnson, Kishore and Berwick (2020). They review the HR13841 and S 1129.8 in detail [Note: HR 1384 and S 1129 were also proposed in the last Congressional session and they have an overview of that as well] HR 1384 and S 1129 both establish a single payer federal insurance…

Sunday 5th January 2020

Why does generic entry increase competitor brand’s market share?

Consider the case of two drugs, Drug A and Drug B. Both drugs treat patients with the same disease. Further, assume they are close substitutes. When Drug A loses it’s patent and generics can enter the market, one would expect Drug A’s market share (brand + generic) to rise. In fact, Drug A’s market share…

Friday 3rd January 2020

How much LSD should you give an elephant?

How would an elephant react to LSD? While this question may be interesting in and of itself, a more basic question to ask is how much LSD should an elephant be given to answer this question. In How Animals Work, Knut Schmidt-Nielsen shows how some faulty logic lead to an elephant’s LSD overdose. A scientific…

Thursday 2nd January 2020

Top Healthcare Economist posts of 2019

As we head into 2020, we will briefly look back at the most read articles in 2019 on the Healthcare Economist blog. These include: Marginal Structural Models (and the “MSM: A Simple Example” was also popular) Trends in hospital consolidation Part D Fun Facts How to Value Curative Therapies What is a “digital practitioner”? Meth…

Monday 30th December 2019

Cartoon of the day

Redesigning health care is not as easy as it may seam.

Sunday 29th December 2019

Section 8 Housing Vouchers: Origin Story

Section 8 housing vouchers uses government funds to subsidize low-income households when paying rent to private landlords. While the program may drive up rent somewhat, it does allow low-income households (that are lucky enough to get the voucher) to afford higher quality, more stable housing. But the Section 8 program was not the idea of…

Thursday 19th December 2019

Drug importation from Canada won’t work

Today, the Trump administration laid out a plan to allow states, drug wholesalers and pharmacies to import some cheaper drugs from Canada. While at first glance many may believe that this approach would lead to large decreases in drug prices, in practice the impact on prices is likely to be modest. In a Washington Times…

Tuesday 17th December 2019

How should we define “unmet need”?

Many health technology assessment (HTA) agencies give additional consideration to treatments if there is unmet need. But what really defines unmet need?  According to an article by Vreman et al. (2019), there are three key elements.  First, there should be no or limited treatment alternatives.  If there are lots of good treatment options available, then…

Monday 16th December 2019

Single Payer and Sledding in the Snow

This weekend, I took my daughters to go sledding. Since we live in Southern California, this was an exciting event. In time for the holidays, a nearby park had set up a sledding hill and area for snowball fights. Even better, the snow event was free! The snow event worked just liked a single payer…

Sunday 15th December 2019

Winning the fight against tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) kills the most people in the world of any other pathogen. While treatments are available to fight TB, there are a number of challenges. First, many individuals may have latent TB where the disease may be contagious before symptoms are apparent. Second, the spread of HIV has also been problematic for controlling TB,…

Thursday 12th December 2019

Quality Measurement in Oncology: Is the Race Worth Running?

This is the title of my recent commentary in the Journal of Clinical Pathways. The article discusses a number of challenges of measuring quality of care in oncology: The challenges mentioned included: the long time-lag to develop new guidelines and then incorporate these into validated quality measures, the potential narrow populations to which guidelines would…

Wednesday 11th December 2019

Improving Care for Older Adults with Cancer

Cancer is a horrible disease. Providing high quality care often means providing safe, effective and cost-effective treatments that meets a patient’s priority. Reaching these goals, however, is particularly challenging when treating older adults with cancer. A paper on this exact topic by Ramsdale et al. (2017) notes that: Cancer care delivery for older adults with…

Tuesday 10th December 2019

Health benefits of the Freedom Dividend

Andrew Yang, Democratic candidate for President, has is running largely on a platform of the “Freedom Dividend“. The Freedom Dividend is a $1000 monthly payment to ever American adult. The goal is to reduce inequality and provide some liquidity for low-income individuals to start business, or have more work-life flexibility. This approach–a form of Universal…

Monday 9th December 2019

Is funding biased against rural residents?

The answer is ‘yes’ according to a paper by Probst, Eberth, and Crouch (2019). The reason they cite is “structural urbanism”. Economists may be to blame. Consider a typical economist’s perspective. One wants to balance costs and benefits. If one wants ‘fair’ allocation per person, then of course equal funding will give more funding to…

Friday 6th December 2019

Health care spending falls as a share of GDP

In Health Affairs, CMS Office of the Actuary (OACT) notes that while health care spending grew in 2018, it actually fell as a percentage of the economy. US health care spending increased 4.6 percent to reach $3.6 trillion in 2018, a faster growth rate than the rate of 4.2 percent in 2017 but the same…

Thursday 5th December 2019

Will physicians adopt digital health innovations?

The answer is ‘maybe’. Some are scarred by the distance between the hype and reality of electronic health records (EHR) which promised much efficiency and patient benefit, but resulted in a lot of both direct cost and data entry cost with limited interoperability and modest benefits to patients. So what factors will physicians take into…

Wednesday 4th December 2019

The Grossman model

The central proposition of the Grossman model (Grossman 1972) is that health can be viewed as a durable capital stock that produces an output of healthy time. It is assumed that individuals inherit an initial stock of health that depreciates with age and can be increased by investment. The model is similar to human capital…


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