SSDI “$1 for $2” Reform

Currently the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program covers almost 8 million Americans. The program is designed to help those who need assistance the most: those who cannot work due to disability. These individuals are entitled to approximately $830 per month. One feature of SSDI is that it has an implicit 100% tax on earnings.…

Physician Assistant Data

The concept of the Physician Assistant gained its inspiration from 17th century Europe where feldshers were used in the 17th century Russian Army. In the 1960s, China employed over 1.3 million “barefoot doctors” to improve delivery of health care, especially in rural areas. Not until the mid 1960s did the U.S. begin to use Physician…

SCHIP expansion in Minnesota and New York

Under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the Federal government established the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was aimed at reducing the number of uninsured children in the United States. States were given a variety of options of how to implement this program. Nineteen states decided to operate the SCHIP program as an…

Markets at work: LASIK

According to the Marginal Revolution blog (“Seeing is believing“): Laser eye surgery has the highest patient satisfaction ratings of any surgery, it has been performed more than 3 million times in the past decade, it is new, it is high-tech, it has gotten better over time and… laser eye surgery has fallen in price. In…

Markets at work in rural India

What happens to farmers in developed nations when they or their family members get sick? Typically, much of a farmer’s savings is tied up in illiquid assets (land, crops, fertilizer, etc.) and the farmer turns to the town money lender. Since there is less competition for loans in rural areas, the money lender can charge…

Health ‘breakthrough’ anxieties

Nearly every day one reads about a revolutionary new pharmaceutical or medical procedure.  Years later, however, we often learn that this ‘breakthrough’ was only a marginal improvement, had serious side effects or simply did not work.  Ellen Goodman discusses in “Health ‘breakthrough’ anxieties” how a new breast cancer drug (raloxifene) seemed to offer a better…

HealthCare Direct LLC

“One of the quirks of the health care system is that health plans individually negotiate different prices with hospitals and doctors. The result is that two health plans can pay different prices for the same procedure at the same hospital. The contracts typically prevent a health plan from saying that it charges a certain amount…

Number of U.S. Deaths Drop 2% in 2004

After a large number of posts criticizing the American healthcare system on this very blog, it is now time to sing its praise. The San Diego Union Tribune reports today (“U.S. deaths dropped 2% during ’04, report finds“) that the number of deaths decreased by 50,000 between 2003 and 2004. This is surprising. Despite medical…

Nurse-Staffing Levels and the Quality of Care in Hospitals

Most people intuitively believe that having more nurses on staff at a hospital improves health outcomes. After reading Money Magazine‘s report that an average RN earns approximately $70,000 per year, relying on ‘intuition’ may not be the most appropriate manner to judge a nurse’s cost effectiveness. Do health outcomes really improve to justify this cost?…