Amy Finkelstein in BusinessWeek

Amy Finkelstein is one of my favorite healthcare economists and recently BusinessWeek ran an article (“So that’s why it’s so expensive“) profiling her and her work.  I have profiled Ms. Finkelstein before in my June 15th post describing her 2005 paper with McGarry.  She also has a new NBER working paper (“The aggregate effects of health…

Bikini Blues

While advances by physicians and new medical technologies often make for front page news, public health interventions have likely been the major cause of the significant health improvements throughout history.  For instance, creating a system of waste disposal and maintaining clean water has greatly increased the expected longevity of urban residents.  The 14th century Black…

Avian Flu: What should be done

Economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University has an interesting paper (“Avian Flu: What should be done“) on the optimal policy to combat avian flu.  Below, I cite a few of the more interesting points from his executive summary: Prepare social norms and emergency procedures which would limit or delay the spread of a pandemic. Regular hand…

Is Price Inflation Different for the Elderly?

One Social Security reform often suggested is to change the indexation of benefits from a wage inflation measure to a price inflation measure, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Critics argue that the price of healthcare has increased more than overall CPI and since the elderly spend a higher percentage of their income on…

The technology of birth: Is it worth it?

Life expectancy for low-birthweight babies has increased dramatically in the later half of the 20th century, mostly due to improved medical technology.  Prolific use of complex medical equipment and techniques–such as phototherapy, intravenous hyperalimentation, CT scans, etc.–during premature births has increased the average lifetime spending on low-birthdweight babies $39,000 between 1950 and 1990.  Is this…

Medicare’s (true) Administrative Costs

A common justification for Medicare is that the public health insurance system has an overhead cost which is about 2% of claims, while the private sector has administrative costs between 20%-25% of claims.  This tells us that Medicare is the best system for America…right? Merrill Mathew’s of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAFI) summarizes…

Nearest doc: 200 miles

A very interesting book I recently came across is Arctic Village by Robert Marshall.  The book recounts the author’s two year stay in Wiseman, Alaska during the 1930s.  Wiseman is a town (if you could call it that) located above the arctic circle and is made up of less than 200 people.  The book details…