Healthcare Topic: Costs & Economic Analysis

Wednesday, October 10, 2008
Although there is considerable attention paid to addressing cost growth and investing in public health and prevention, the most noteworthy aspect of Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s health care plan is its focus on attempting to make insurance affordable for all Americans
Wednesday, August 8, 2009
To be successful, healthcare reform must pay for extending coverage to the uninsured while credibly controlling future costs. Current proposals include a mandate for employers, a public insurance option, and tax increases on high-income households.
Monday, August 8, 2009
Health care should be consumer driven for reasons of both efficiency and ethics. When in possession of adequate information and faced with appropriate incentives, consumers make better choices for their own health than does any third party, regardless of whether that third party is motivated by the most worthy of intentions.
Tuesday, April 4, 2010
Health care reform is now the law of the land, and the rollout has begun. If the law stands without major revision, only time will tell how it ultimately affects health care costs, coverage, and quality. Like everyone else, I have my own thoughts, but opinion and forecast must give way to reality.
Tuesday, May 5, 2010
Right now in both countries, there’s a push among most politicians to exhort the necessity of reining in our respective national deficits. Politicians in the U.S. and U.K. have hit the stump and said to anyone who will listen that unless deficits are reduced, the consequences for the economy will be dramatic.
Monday, June 6, 2010
You don’t hear much about that idea in discussions of health reform and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but a significant part of those deficit-reducing savings will come from reductions in payments to Medicare providers...
Tuesday, August 8, 2010
When administration officials tout the cost savings potential of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a lead New England Journal of Medicine article ( Aug. 12, 2010), one has to wonder if the statute adequately addresses the core drivers of poor health and excessive health care costs in a way which is understandable and actionable by patients and their doctors.
Tuesday, October 10, 2010
In 2011, health insurance premiums in the United States are going to rise. In all likelihood, the price increase that consumers are going to see isn’t going to be trivial.
Monday, January 1, 2011
Data from the National Health Statistics Group at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that health spending accounted for 17.6 percent of the gross domestic product in 2009—up a full percentage point from 2008. There was a time when a 10 percent share was viewed as apocalyptic.
Tuesday, February 2, 2011
To start a real dialogue that leads to real reform, here’s the small business position: The past was awful, the present lies somewhere between no-better and much-worse, and the future can be bright if sensible replace follows blessed repeal.
Tuesday, March 3, 2011
When consumers and employers pick health plans, some increasingly are being offered a trade-off these days: They can get a hefty break on their premiums if they agree to pay more out-of-pocket when they use certain high-cost providers in their network or if they cut those providers out of their network altogether.
Tuesday, March 3, 2011
Prevention is one of those things that everyone can agree on, the health policy world’s equivalent of apple pie (minus the fat and sodium). Except that nowadays, health care is so politicized that no one can agree on anything.
Tuesday, March 3, 2011
Some regions of the country that have been lambasted for high levels of Medicare spending actually are below the national average once the severity of patient sickness and special local expenses are taken into account, according to data from a new government analysis.
Monday, March 3, 2011
As noted in our most recent Health Sector Economic Indicators release, health spending has grown at historically low rates for the past 28 consecutive months (September 2008 through January 2011). In addition, the health spending share of gross domestic product has remained stable since the start of the recovery in June 2009.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Obesity is one of the most challenging health crises the country has ever faced; obesity-related medical costs and a less productive workforce are hampering America’s ability to compete in the global economy.
Monday, April 4, 2011
If cost shifting in hospitals was a frequent phenomenon in the U.S., it would have profound policy implications. In the absence of cost shifting, reductions in the Medicare reimbursement rate would lower overall health care spending, and hospitals would absorb the loss in revenue. On aggregate, this would mean a reduction in overall health care spending.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
In a system that generates income by providing more and more services, the only party currently paying attention to the necessary care question is the government and employers.
Wednesday, May 5, 2011
In my last Altarum Health Policy blog, I discussed how to recognize a bent health care cost curve. This curve was defined in terms of health spending as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), a measure that is closely watched by health economists and policymakers who are concerned with the share of national income needed to fund health care.
Tuesday, May 5, 2011
Bundling provides incentives for providers to differentiate product and price and enables purchasers and payers to compare and contrast offerings.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Do you want more evidence that health care reform can be a hugely difficult process? If so, then take a look at the political and policy tumult over the British government’s health care reforms to the English National Health Service.
Tuesday, July 7, 2011
Monthly employment figures for June (released on July 8) were much lower than anticipated and have caused new doubts about the robustness of the economic recovery. The increase in payroll jobs was only 18,000, a fraction of what had been expected by most forecasters.
Tuesday, August 8, 2011
Small-business owners are deeply concerned that the 2010 health care law (PPACA) will prolong what has been described as America’s “jobless recovery.”
Tuesday, August 8, 2011
The U.S. debt ceiling debate was a master class in political dysfunction. However, in the midst of the political infighting and false debates about the merits of raising revenue versus slashing spending, one firm fiscal fact remained: unless the U.S. can slow the rate of growth in health care spending, we’re going to keep having these paralyzing debt debates time and time again.
Tuesday, September 9, 2011
Since last March when we began tracking national health expenditures (NHE) on a monthly basis, we have been wondering when the health spending share of GDP would hit the 18 percent threshold. The recent downward revision of historical GDP estimates has provided the answer – it already happened — back in the summer of 2009, around the time when the recession was declared officially over.
Tuesday, October 10, 2011
The 2010 health care law will conjure up a strange brew of inequities as it comes to a boil in 2014. The mechanistic, one-size-fits-all health insurance subsidies, for example, will generate serious questions about the law’s fairness.
Tuesday, October 10, 2011
Nearly every developed country is under substantial pressure to slow the growth in health care spending. However, as we have seen, while virtually every country has pledged to spend less, few have been successful.
Tuesday, December 12, 2011
Assuming the 2010 health care law survives through 2014, one of the big questions is the future of small-group insurance plans – those in which the employer chooses and administers a plan or plans for employees. The health insurance exchanges built into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) create mechanisms for small-group survival, but also powerful incentives for their dissolution.
Friday, January 1, 2012

How interested are consumers in the price of health care services? Results from our Consumer Opinion survey indicate that most consumers have never asked about the price of a health care service before getting care.  Fewer than 30 percent asked about price in the past year. Findings like these suggest that consumers are not in the habit of inquiring about cost. Some reasons for this include: not being motivated to ask about price (because someone else pays), not feeling comfortable asking about price, or not feeling certain as to where to get the information. 

Friday, January 1, 2012

Kudos to Robert Samuelson  (Op-Ed, January 16, 2012, The Washington Post) for bringing attention to health care spending in the U.S., and to the more subtle but potentially more important issue of the relationship between health spending and the economy—one that typically goes unrecognized as commentators equate health care with medical need.

Tuesday, February 2, 2012

As we embark upon a presidential campaign season, we can anticipate many lively debates on the topics of taxation and spending in this nation. As health spending in the United States accounts for 18 percent of our gross domestic product—a rate often called unsustainable—it is critical that we be clear-eyed in our understanding of the tradeoffs between tax revenues and a sustainable rate of national health spending.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

By Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News

Tuesday, February 2, 2012

Innovation in health care products, services, delivery models and processes has emerged as a popular solution to spiraling U.S. health care costs as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launches its $1 billion challenge to the public and private sectors to demonstrate and scale value-driven innovations that reduce health care costs while maintaining or improving quality. Innovations proven in pilot and demonstration projects offer the potential for improvements in health care efficiency, effectiveness and affordability.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has a thousand pages of moving parts, and the relatively few that have rolled out are shedding sprockets across the landscape. This is deeply worrying, given that the stability of the nation’s health care system depends on the successful construction and launch of a vast fleet of new institutions before New Year’s Day, 2014.

Number-one selling point

Monday, March 3, 2012

Center for Sustainable Health Spending colleagues George Miller, Ph.D. and Paul Hughes-Cromwick have the following thoughts.

Tuesday, April 4, 2012

By Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News

Nine prominent physician groups today released lists of 45 common tests and treatments they say are often unnecessary and may even harm patients.

Thursday, May 5, 2012

Overuse of health care is moving into the policy spotlight as a critical—and addressable—cost and quality issue. Overuse—providing care that is not medically warranted or expensive services that don’t add value over less costly ones—contributes to our high national health care costs. Strategies to address overuse are critical to improving quality, reducing health care costs and eliminating “waste” in the health care system.

Thursday, June 6, 2012

This is my fourth blog on the topic of sustainable health spending (others are here: 1, 2, 3).  I have argued that under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), long-run sustainability in health spending is largely determined by the federal government’s ability to meet its Medi