CBO: Healthcare projected to consume increasing share of federal outlays in next decade

Every year, the Congressional Budget Office projects how the federal budget will look over the coming decade. For the coming decade, the numbers look grim. Federal deficits in CBO’s baseline average $1.2 trillion per year and total $11.6 trillion over the 2020– 2029 period…Those deficits would average 4.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Other…

Is the hospital readmissions reduction program bad for patients?

The answer is ‘perhaps’ according to a new paper by Wadhera et al. (2018). They use data from 2005 to 2015, and apply an inverse probability–weighted 30-day and 45-day post-discharge mortality measure stratified by whether there was an associated readmission. They examine admissions for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia. Among Medicare beneficiaries, the HRRP…

Medicare, adverse selection and cancer

Conventional wisdom holds that Medicare Advantage provides better service and lower cost sharing than traditional Medicare fee-for-service, and thus is attractive for many people.  However, Medicare Advantage may restrict access to providers and may be less attractive to patients with more severe illnesses.  Healthcare economists, however, do not rely on rumors and stories to make…

Healthcare Economist on President Trump’s plan to lower Medicare drug prices

A recent report from Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) found that for about 30 physician administered drugs, prices are 8 times as high as those charged in other developed countries. To address the high prices, President Trump unveiled a three-part plan to reduce drug prices.  Under the “international pricing index” proposal, U.S. drug…

Does health insurance save lives?

According to one study by Martin Anderson presented at the NBER’s Program on Health Economics meeting May 4, the answer is yes.  Dr. Anderson examines the changes in insurance coverage, health care utilization, and mortality after the expansion of Medicare coverage to all patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD).  The study finds that: …the expansions…

Is Medicare Advantage risk adjustment fair? And if not, what should we do about it?

While most patients in Medicare use the traditional fee-for-service route, a growing percentage of Medicare beneficiaries are relying on managed care plans through Medicare Advantage.  Medicare Advantage provides beneficiaries with additional choice and also serves as a competitive alternative to traditional Medicare.  In theory, Medicare should just allocate a beneficiary’s funding to a managed care…