Health care market concentration

One question is whether more physician concentration is a good thing.  On the one hand, larger practices could lead to more efficient care. On the other hand, larger practices could give providers more market power and could drive up prices. A separate question is whether federal authorities could do anything about increased physician market concentration.…

Will MACRA kill small physician practices?

Depending on the source, 34% to 59% percent of physicians are employed in practices of less than 10 physicians.  On the other hand, 39% of physicians are employed by hospitals.  How will these proportions change over time? An interesting paper by Casalino (2017) examines the impact of the  Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) on…

The kindly physician or the profit maximizer?

In the U.S. physician fees are largely set through regulation or negotiation with insurers. For physicians accepting Medicare or Medicaid patients, fees are set by government entities (i.e., the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for Medicare reimbursement for the former and state Medicaid agencies for the latter). Rates for physicians accepting patients with private…

Supply side health reform

Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution notes that designing a health care system that focuses on benefits to consumers and is important, but one should not ignore how any health care system design affects the supply of health care, in particular incentives to create innovative goods and services. By greater spending on medical research, I mean not…

Immigrant Physicians

Interesting facts from Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution: One percent of all the physicians in the United States come from the six countries targeted in Donald Trump’s new Executive Order. I found that a surprisingly high number. According to the Immigrant Doctors Project, those 7000 physicians provide 14 million doctors’ appointments each year and many of them…

Machine learning and physician employement

An article by Ajay Agrawal and Avi Goldfarb (“The Simple Economics of Machine Intelligence“) provide an interesting perspective on how machine learning will affect employment with a nice example from the health care sector. All human activities can be described by five high-level components: data, prediction, judgment, action, and outcomes. For example, a visit to the…

Can physicians affect medication adherence?

According to a recent study by Koulayev, Simeonova, and Skipper (2016) using data from Denmark, the answer is ‘yes’. Non-compliance with medication therapy remains an unsolved and expensive problem for healthcare systems around the world, yet we know little about the factors that affect a patient’s decision to follow treatment recommendations. In particular, there is…

Is balance billing a good thing?

Are health care prices set on an open market? Almost certainly not. In many cases, physician fees are set by insurers. Currently, for instance, Medicare sets fees for physicians administratively. At Medicare’s inception, however, Medicare did allow physicians to charge whatever fees they wanted; Medicare would pay a base rate and patients would be responsible…